The Queensland priest behind the successful campaign to abolish the ‘gay panic’ legal defence has welcomed the state Government’s proposed changes to the Criminal Code, but argues they donot go far enough.
Father Paul Kelly (pictured), whose Change.org petition was signed by more than 25,000 people, said while the changes were a victory for common sense and a great demonstration of people power, they did not go far enough to eliminate the prospect of the “homosexual advance” defence being put forward in court as a partial defence for murder.
Kelly also wants the findings of the expert committee report on the subject to be released for analysis.
Queensland Attorney-General Paul Lucas said the Government’s decision to act was, in part, in response to a recommendation from the special committee established in November.
“I am cautiously heartened by the developments, but I am calling on the state Government to release the expert committee’s report so that the tens of thousands of people who have signed this petition can examine the detail,” Kelly said.
“I am concerned the Government is tinkering at the edges of this problem rather than completely eliminating the possibility of the gay panic defence being raised.
“My concern is that the ‘exceptional circumstances’ provision will still allow defence lawyers to pollute juries by raising the gay panic defence.”
Kelly is now calling on Liberal National Party (LNP) leader Campbell Newman to at least match the Government’s commitment and for both parties to take a strong stand on the issue in the new Parliament regardless of the outcome of the March 24 election.
Change.org Australian director Nick Allardice said Kelly’s campaign was a demonstration of the internet’s ability to be used to harness people power to effect change.
“Father Kelly’s Change.org campaign shone a spotlight on an archaic aspect of our law that needed to be addressed,” he said.
“There is no doubt that the huge public response to his campaign had a direct influence on the Government measures announced today.”