News Brief - Austria's POTENTIAL Anti-Gay Pardons

by Aaron Shepard
in News
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Austria's POTENTIAL Anti-Gay Law Pardons 

Austria’s Minister of Justice has proposed a new law that would potentially pardon homosexual men and women sentenced under former anti-homosexuality laws, but there's a catch.  The person must first apply for the pardon and and then be found not guilty by a court.

The proposal published on Monday, September 14 comes two years after the European Court of Human Rights accused Austria – among other countries – of violating the European Convention on Human Rights by not clearing their criminal records.

News Brief Austria Parliament

Furthermore, the proposed new law doesn’t mean every one of the 200 people whose criminal register carries a sentencing under one of these laws will automatically be pardoned.  

The current draft requires anyone carrying one of those sentences to apply for a pardon; their case will then be taken to a court, in a non-public hearing, and it will be decided if their conviction will be deleted.  

This is where it gets tricky though.

According to LGBT group Rechtskomittee LAMBDA (RKL), a decision would be based on whether their actions would be legal today.  For instance, this would mean that a gay man of legal age, convicted of having sexual contact with an underage male prostitute before 2002 - age of protection prior to 2002 was 18 for homosexuals, while it remained 14 for heterosexual couples - may not have his record deleted as underage prostitution is now banned under Austrian law.

Some LGBTI groups, including the RKL, have voiced their concerns over the proposal, saying its policy of basing a pardon on today’s legal situation is still discriminatory and in breach of the convention.

Others, including the Homosexuelle Initiative Wien have welcomed the proposal, calling it important and agreeing with the ministry’s plan to check certain convictions.

What're your thoughts on this controversial new legislation?