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Gays want names
expunged from Austrian criminal registry

Gays want names
expunged from Austrian criminal registry

An Austrian lobby group said Wednesday that it would launch an effort to have the names of almost 1,500 people convicted under now-repealed laws banning gay sex acts expunged from a registry of criminals. In Austria the names of all those ever convicted of committing a crime are listed in a registry. The names are removed after five years for lighter crimes, while the names of those committing more serious crimes could remain indefinitely.

The interior ministry said in a response to a question from a parliamentarian that 1,434 people were listed in the registry for having violated now-repealed laws relating to homosexual activity. Almost 600 of them were listed for convictions under a law banning all homosexual activity--a law that was abolished more than 30 years ago. More than 400 were listed for violating a law that set the age of consent for gays at 18, while the heterosexual age of consent was 14. That law, listed in the penal code as paragraph 209, was found unconstitutional in 2002 and abolished.

Helmut Graupner, a spokesman for the lobby group Platform Against Paragraph 209, said the group would ask police to expunge the listings and planned to take its fight to the European Court of Human Rights if needed. "To keep the listings in the registry even when the offenses no longer are considered crimes violates human rights," Graupner said Wednesday.

Christoph Poechinger, a spokesman for the interior ministry, said all people still listed in the registry as having been convicted under the two laws remained listed only because they also had been convicted of more serious crimes. In such cases, the listings for offenses of the repealed laws cannot be removed because of "technical reasons," he said. Courts, police, and prosecutors have access to the registry, and employers often require that job applicants provide a document showing their listing in the registry. (AP)

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