A Queenland Catholic priest’s campaign to end the state’s notorious “gay panic” defence has provoked a massive global response since relaunching last week.

Support for Father Paul Kelly’s Change.org petition exploded at the weekend and now has in excess of 158,000 signatures.

Kelly began his new push on July 12 and, in only three days, signatures went from approximately 40,000 to in excess of 150,000. Change.org has announced that the campaign is now the largest Australian petition ever hosted on the site.

The petition also garnered the attention of several high-profile names. American actress Sophia Bush (One Tree Hill) – who also describes herself as an activist – tweeted the campaign link to her 630,000 followers.

“#EqualityMatters‬ – Tell Queensland to eliminate the ‘gay panic’ defence from law ‪#gaypanic‬ ‪#bullshit‬,” she wrote last week.

It led to thousands of international replies on Twitter, including from some religious leaders. Californian Reverend Sylvia Vasquez tweeted that the law was “absurd in the extreme” and South African Catholic priest Father Stefan Hippler also pledged his support for his “brother priest”.

Kelly said he was delighted by the support for his campaign.

“The international attention on this archaic and discriminatory law is most welcome,” he said.

“Hopefully the Queensland government will wake up to the fact that there is no support for this law, apart from within fundamentalist sections of the LNP.

“Queenslanders don’t want it, Australians don’t want it, and now we can see the world doesn’t want it.”

You can sign the petition here.

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