THE Australian Christian Lobby is fighting the proposed repeal of the controversial ‘gay panic’ laws in Queensland.
The defence currently allows people accused of murder to claim they were provoked by unwanted sexual advances, helping to reduce the charge to manslaughter.
State director of the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL), Wendy Francis, told a parliamentary committee hearing on Wednesday that the legislation was gender-neutral and removing it would mean the government is saying “groping a woman is okay”.
“I think there are unintended consequences,” she said, despite the law predominantly being used to defend men killing men.
“Removing this law is actually discriminatory against women,” she said, claiming to have spoken to several women’s organisations who opposed the change.
Why abolishing the so-called ’gay panic’ laws will undermine defence rights https://t.co/LkKSjPoGVb
— ACL (@ACLobby) January 25, 2017
Member for Coomera Michael Crandon responded by questioning why feminist groups had not made submissions to the committee if they opposed the reform.
The campaign to have the law abolished has primarily been led by Father Paul Kelly, following the death of Wayne Ruks on the grounds of his Maryborough church in 2008. One of the killers, who used the gay panic defence, served four years for manslaughter and was released in 2012.
Francis said the ACL agreed that homophobic or transphobic violence was inexcusable, but expressed concern that the timeframe to consider the legal reform was very short.
“I wonder whether we can try not to rush the decision,” said Francis, of the proposed amendment to the Criminal Code 1899.
Committee chair Mark Furner said the timeframe for the bill was normal.
Queensland and South Australia remain the only states that allow the gay panic defence.
The parliamentary committee is due to report on the bill by 21 February.