Staff from the office of Queensland Premier Campbell Newman have been forced to edit a post made on Newman’s official Facebook page regarding the state’s ‘gay panic’ defence.
Comments which appeared to link paedophilia and the gay community were made to justify the state’s provocation laws in reply to a critical Facebook comment questioning Newman’s support of the defence.
“We’re not saying it is okay to kill someone, but the court will take into consideration that someone may have attacked another person because they were provoked by something, like finding a paedophile sexually assaulting their child,” Newman’s staff originally posted.
The reply was later edited, omitting the comments made about paedophilia.
Mass condemnation of the original remarks immediately followed.
“Premier, did you liken an instance of a gay man coming onto a straight man, to that of a paedophile coming onto a child? Frankly, I am DISGUSTED,” one reply stated.
“Queensland Premier Campbell Newman’s team likening a gay man coming on to a straight man to a paedophile sexually assaulting a child when discussing the ‘gay panic’ law. Shameful,” another Facebook user wrote.
Maryborough Priest Father Paul Kelly, who is leading a campaign to end the gay panic defence, said he was concerned that the government was appearing to link the two issues.
“The comments made in Campbell Newman’s Facebook post are appalling and not befitting that of a premier of an Australian state,” Kelly told the Star Observer.
“That kind of association between homosexuality and paedophilia fosters misunderstanding, hatred and fear.”
Newman’s office has subsequently stated that it wasn’t drawing a link between homosexuality and paedophilia, and apologised to anyone “who may have been offended”.
Kelly said that damage had already been done.
“The damage done by those comments, even when retracted, is that it continues to foster ignorance and intolerance,” he said.
University of Newcastle senior law lecturer Dr Alan Berman labelled the link “outrageous” and said comparing the two issues was homophobic.
“Drawing such parallels suggests gay men should be no more entitled to protection under the law than paedophiles,” Berman told the Star Observer.
Berman called on Newman to apologise on behalf of his staff for their comments.
The premier’s staff were replying to a post which labelled the gay panic defence “disgusting” and said it served by providing those who kill in cold blood “to use the law as an excuse”.