THE Queensland Government has made moves to eliminate the ‘gay panic’ defence from the criminal code.
The defence is used in murder or assault cases where a person claims they were subjected to sexual or romantic advances from a gay person.
Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath said she would move amendments to section 304 of the criminal code, following up on a 2015 election promise.

“As the House is aware, the Queensland Government committed during the 2015 State general election to amending that section to exclude an unwanted sexual advance from being able to establish a partial defence of provocation in the case of murder,” she said in parliament.

“I am pleased to advise the House that this work is well under way. Today I commenced targeted consultation with key legal stakeholders by circulating a draft amendment to section 304 of the Criminal Code for comment on whether the amendments achieve the policy intention.

“The Palaszczuk Government considers it imperative to ensure the amendments responsibly and meaningfully deliver on this important shift in the criminal law, reflecting the changes in community expectations demanded by a modern, progressive society. Queensland’s Criminal Code must not be seen to condone violence against the gay community, or indeed any community.

Joyce Kujala, mother of the late Wayne Ruks whose killers used the defence, welcomed the move.

“It can’t bring justice upon my son’s death, but I’ll be comforted  when I know gay panic can no longer be used to defend murders. But there’s no reason this can’t be passed next week. This lack of urgency means another mum could tomorrow go through the horror I did.”

St Mary’s parish priest Paul Kelly started a Change.org petition, which attracted 242,000 supporters.

“It’s welcome news that the Attorney-General is moving to end the disgraceful gay panic law – but the leisurely pace concerns me,” Kelly said.

“Myself and the 240,000 people who’ve signed my change.org petition hope the new opposition leader can help pass this legislation urgently – and ensure no one uses this shocking ‘gay panic’ law again.”

The ‘gay panic’ defence currently only exists in South Australia and Queensland.

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