South Australian Greens MLC Tammy Franks (pictured) wants the state Parliament to abolish the ‘gay panic’ defence laws that can reduce a murder charge to manslaughter.
The homosexual advance defence, known as the gay panic defence can be used to reduce a murder charge to manslaughter if the alleged perpetrator argues they were provoked by an unwanted sexual advance by a homosexual.
Such laws have already been removed from Tasmania, Western Australia and Victoria, while both territories have amended the defence to exclude non-violent sexual advances like the gay panic defence.
Franks introduced a bill into Parliament on Wednesday and said that while the defence had not been called on in SA, it still sent out the wrong message.
“The homosexual advance defence, commonly called the ‘gay panic’ defence, is an archaic law with dangerous consequences that sends all the wrong messages in the year 2013,” Franks said.
“What the existing law does is effectively suggest that homophobia is okay; it suggests that a non-violent sexual advance directed by one man towards another man, or one woman towards another woman, is somehow deserving of a special defence to murder, while an advance directed by a man towards a woman or a woman towards a man is not.
“Of course there are situations where a defence of provocation should be applied, including in situations of long-term domestic violence, but a non-violent, gay advance should not be akin to a horrific, violent act under the law.”
Franks said the defence had been used in 1996 when Malcolm Green was charged with manslaughter for the murder of Donald Gillies in 1996 after applying the law.
Green had stabbed Gillies to death after a sexual advance was made on him.
He had initially been sentenced with murder for the crime that involved hitting the victim 35 times, banging his face against a wall and stabbing him 10 times with scissors.
The state’s attorney-general said the government was yet to consider its position on the bill while the shadow justice minister Stephen Wade told News Limited he would take the bill to the party room.