Queensland Attorney-General moves to abolish state’s gay panic defence

Queensland Attorney-General moves to abolish state’s gay panic defence
Image: (PHOTOt: Ann-Marie Calilhanna; Star Observer)

QUEENSLAND’S “gay panic” or “homosexual advance” legal defence could soon be abolished after the recently-elected Labor government announced it would seek to reintroduce amendments to address what is officially known as the provocation defence.

Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath made the announcement earlier this week, and the amendments were first introduced in 2012 during the Bligh Labor government.

“The government made the commitment during the election to re-introduce amendments originally put forward by the former Attorney-General Paul Lucas to remove doubts about how and when a partial defence involving a sexual advance can be used.” a spokesperson for D’Ath said.

In 2012, Lucas said: “We made it crystal clear from day one that the Queensland Government does not believe that anyone should be able to use a claim of non-violent homosexual advance to reduce a conviction from murder to manslaughter.

“These amendments make it crystal clear that someone making a pass at someone is not grounds for a partial defence and by no means an excuse for horribly violent acts.”

The announcement comes after the previous Liberal National Party and former Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie refused to remove the defence all together, but instead saying they made it “much harder” to use and that the defence was open to anyone of any gender and sexuality.

In 2011 Bleijie made it so “words alone” could not be judged as provocation except in exceptional circumstances determined by the court.

The defence gained publicity after it was last used in 2010 in the case of Wayne Robert Ruks who was murdered by Jason Andrew Pearce in the grounds in the town of Maryborough near Fraser Island.

Pearce was charged with murder by found guilty of manslaughter after evoking the “gay panic” defence, later released on parole after serving four years out of a nine year sentence.

Another man, Richard John Meerdink, was co-accused with Ruk’s murder and will become eligible for parole next year after receiving a ten-year sentence.

Maryborough parish priest Father Paul Kelly led a campaign to quash the defence in 2012, gaining national and global attention, and a petition that received over 220,000 signatures.

Most other states and territories have abolished the often-described “archaic” defence, the last being NSW in May 2014.

No timeline was given for when the latest changes to the defence would be implemented in Queensland.

“The Attorney General said her priorities were implementing all of her portfolio commitments and the Government is currently working through its legislative agenda,” the Attorney-General’s spokesperson said.

D’Ath also provided an update on the progress towards the expungement of historical criminal convictions for Queensland gay men when homosexuality was illegal in the state, saying that it had taken the issue to the Queensland Law Reform Commission.

“In regards to expunging historical convictions for homosexual sex, the government stands by its commitment to refer the matter to the Queensland Law Reform Commission and remains supportive of repealing such convictions involving consenting adults,” she said.

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2 responses to “Queensland Attorney-General moves to abolish state’s gay panic defence”

  1. Long Overdue!
    The gay panic defence in Queensland should have been repealed years ago!
    The LNP, Bob Katter Party and the ACL will stop at nothing to block progress on abolishing the gay panic defence and prevent the re-introduction of civil partnerships in Queensland!

  2. Queensland is not the only place in Australia to have the “gay panic defence” (GPD). South Australia also has it too!

    GPD must be abolished completely now!