A PLEDGE by the South Australian Greens to abolish the gay panic defence has been welcomed by LGBTI rights groups across the country, renewing calls to abolish similar legal defences in other states.

After a similar bill failed to get through SA Parliament last September, SA Greens Gender and Sexuality spokesperson Tammy Franks said she will reintroduce the bill, calling on both sides of politics to commit to supporting it.

Still on the books in SA, NSW and Queensland, the “homosexual advance” defence allows charges against an accused to be downgraded from murder to manslaughter by claiming an unwelcome, non-violent sexual advance from a person of the same sex as provocation.

NSW GLRL Policy and Project Officer Jed Horner told the Star Observer the move by the SA Greens could provide momentum for the issue in NSW.

“We welcome moves to abolish the partial defence of provocation in cases involving a non-violent sexual advance across other Australian jurisdictions, as well as in NSW,” Horner said.

“The partial defence of provocation has been used to legitimate acts of extreme violence against gay and bisexual men and to inscribe a hierarchy of inequality in law, which has effectively

treated gay and bisexual men as second class citizens. In 2014, it’s time to consign these legal defences, which are a relic of anearlierera,tothedustbinofhistory.”

Horner’s comments were echoed by the Melbourne-based Human Rights Law Centre’s advocacy director Anna Brown, who told the Star Observer the gay panic defence was a glaring example of institutionalised homophobia in Australian law.

“It is hard to believe that in 2014, when support for LGBTI rights continues to grow, that the criminal law in some states can legitimise homophobia in this way,” she said.

“The so called ‘gay panic defence’ leads to grave injustice in individual cases but also perpetuate the dangerous idea that homophobia is somehow natural or intrinsic to average Aussie blokes and heterosexual masculinity.

“Like sexism or racism, homophobia is never okay, and our laws should be directed at preventing and reducing the harm caused by homophobia, rather than condoning or justifying hate crimes.”

 

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