The Queensland Labor Government has spoken out in an attempt to relieve community concerns about the use of the so-called ‘gay panic defence’.
Attorney General Paul Lucas said an expert committee to examine the partial defence of provocation in the context of homosexual advance had been announced on November 9 last year, well before a recent petition on the matter, set up by Maryborough priest Father Paul Kelly, had started.
“The Queensland Government absolutely abhors any attack on anyone based on their sexual preference,” Lucas said.
“We referred the matter to the Queensland Law Reform Commission in 2008 and made recommended changes in April, 2011 which mean that laws around the use of the partial defence of provocation have been tightened.
“Not only are words alone not enough to use the defence, the onus of proof is on the defendant to prove that they were in fact provoked.
Lucas said the case referred to by Father Kelly occurred under the old laws and that there were no known cases in recent times where the new laws had been tested.
“Well before Father Kelly decided to start his online petition, I had received representations and met a number of representatives of the LGBTI community and as a result have referred the matter to the expert panel for its advice,” he said.
“The reality is that actions speak louder than words.”
Lucas said that even though the law reform commission recommended no need for further changes, he set up the committee to look at the issue.
“You don’t meddle with the Criminal Code lightly. That’s why it’s important to take expert advice and that’s what the Government has done at all stages,” he said.
“On the other hand, the LNP goes into parliament and votes en bloc to oppose other equality issues for the gay community such as civil partnerships and same sex surrogacy.”