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Homosexuality was decriminalised in New Zealand in 1986REUTERS/Daniel Becerril

New Zealand has announced on plans to clear records of gay men who were convicted of homosexuality more than 30-years-ago. Under the scheme, criminal records of those accused of sodomy, indecency or providing a place for homosexual acts will be wiped out clean.

On Thursday (9 February), Justice Minister Amy Adams said that those convicted for homosexuality will not receive any compensation, but apologised to those who had to live with the stigma, when the act was considered a crime.

She added: "It means people will be treated as if they had never been convicted and removes the ongoing stigma and prejudice that can arise from convictions for homosexual offences.

"I acknowledge the pain that these New Zealanders have lived with and hope that this will go some way toward addressing that. We are sorry for what those men and their families have gone through and the continued effect the convictions have had on them.

"We think this is a case where society is strongly of the view now that this should not have been regarded as a conviction, even though that was the law at the time."

Homosexuality was decriminalised in New Zealand in 1986, while same sex marriages were legalised in 2013. In 1993, laws were passed to ban discrimination against gay individuals.

The Department of Justice said that at least 1,000 people will be able to apply to clear their records when the scheme comes into effect next year. To qualify for the scheme, any sexual act that led to the conviction – between two individuals – needs to be consensual and those involved should have been at least 16 years old at the time of the incident.