Queensland priest Father Paul Kelly, who is leading a campaign to end the state’s notorious “gay panic” defence, claims to have received a mixed response from his meeting with Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie on August 1.
Kelly delivered the results of his on-going online petition to Bliejie, which has so far attracted more than 205,000 signatures.
He told Star Observer that he left the meeting feeling that any action to end the state’s provocation defence was not overly likely.
“The government appears to have blinkers on to this issue and while otherwise appearing to be reasonable, they don’t have a particularly rational response,” Kelly said.
“I realised afterwards that they only want to scratch the surface, while what we’re talking about it so far underneath.
“If you look at the letter of the law, it looks innocuous enough and equal for everyone and that’s the line they’re taking. But everyone knows the operation of the common law is not working evenly.”
When Kelly brought up the topic of changing the law, he said he found Bleijie’s response disappointing.
“[Bleijie] gave me the impression that he felt ‘Well, we can’t go changing the law on the whim of a Maryborough priest.’ I brought it up with him that that was condescending to all the people that are expressing concern,” he said.
“He said ‘They’ a lot [when referring to gay people]. ‘Them, they.'”
Kelly also said Bleijie claimed to have been misrepresented by the media and that he had yet to give a definitive answer on changing the law.
“He also definitively didn’t say yes either,” Kelly said.
“I don’t know exactly what he’s saying. He certainly made it clear he’s of the mind not to change it. But he did say something curious. He said ‘but you know, the law is a fluid thing. And it does change as the community’s understandings change. Present a fresh submission to me.’
“I came out [of the interview] slightly bemused.”
On his personal stance and passions behind his campaign to end the law, Kelly said that it was purely a human rights issue.
“This isn’t a gay rights issue, it’s about protecting people from hatred and violence.” he said.
You can add your signature to the petition here.