Only 11 men in New South Wales have had homosexuality charges removed from their criminal records since homosexuality was decriminalised in 1984, as LGBTI advocacy groups urge more men to come forward.
Despite homosexuality being decriminalised for more than two decades, it wasn't until 2014 that the NSW Government introduced legislation allowing previous homosexuality charges to be extinguished from criminal records across the state.
To have the charge extinguished, men are required to submit an application form to The NSW Department of Justice for approval.
Only 19 men have applied for their charge or charges to be extinguished in two years, with eleven applications being successful.
The Department of Justice told The Huffington Post Australia five applications are currently being assessed. One application has been refused and two have been withdrawn as they did not relate to the 'eligible homosexual offences'.
These men may now be gay, but potentially might not be, so it is pretty difficult to let them know about the chance to clear their names.Vicki Harding
In September the Inner City Legal Centre (ICLC) held an information session for LGBTI organisations about the application process due to the lack of men applying to have past criminal charges extinguished.
Director of the Inner City Legal Centre Vicki Harding told The Huffington Post Australia it is difficult to reach individuals because of the "shame factor" associated with the charges, and sometimes still, the act itself.
"This is a very sensitive issue for the men it affects," Harding said.
"These men may now be gay, but potentially might not be, so it is pretty difficult to let them know about the chance to clear their names."
A criminal record with solely a historical homosexuality conviction can prevent men from obtaining many jobs and travelling to some overseas countries, in addition to the shame often associated with the charge.
The ICLC is currently working with the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, ACON, Human Rights Law Centre and HIV/Aids Legal Centre to consider whether further law reform is needed in the area.
However Harding is currently working to ensure "everyone who might benefit from [an application], actually knows about it."
Men with historical homosexuality charges are encouraged to apply for extinguishment here.
This is a very sensitive issue for the men it affects.Vicki Harding
A spokesman from The NSW Department of Justice told HuffPost Australia a person -- or a person related to a deceased person -- may apply in writing for an historic homosexual offence to be extinguished by providing:
- the name, address and date of birth of the applicant;
- the name and address of the applicant at the time of the conviction; and
- so far as is known to the applicant, the time when and the place where the conviction was made.
The Secretary of the Department of Justice then has the authority to extinguish the charge if the sexual activity was consensual and both people were above the age of consent.
For more information about the application process click here.