SYDNEY comedian Tom Ballard has formed an unlikely alliance with a Catholic Bishop to make an impassioned plea with lawmakers to end the ‘gay panic’ defence rule which still exists in some states of Australia.
Homosexual Advance Defence, more commonly known as gay panic defence, is a legal defence that can be used by men who have assaulted or murdered another man because they believed he was coming on to him. Queensland’s Government has vowed to eliminate a person’s ability to use the gay panic defence, but it can still be used in South Australia.
Ballard has now joined forces with Catholic Parish Priest Paul Kelly to back his online petition pressuring lawmakers to urgently end the gay panic defence before another killer walks free.
Fr Kelly started the petition after a personal experience: Wayne Ruks was murdered in his courtyard in Queensland six years ago. The gay panic defence was used in court, and his killers were given manslaughter sentences. One of his killers walked free after serving just four years of a nine year sentence. The other is up for parole in the next few months.
“Australia is an international disgrace for still having this homophobic law on its books,” Fr Kelly said.
“It’s allowing killers to walk free after serving paltry sentences. And it’s a demeaning, dangerous insult to gay people.
“Queensland has claimed to be working on it, but the leisurely pace concerns me. There’s silence from South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill. I refuse to accept that. Every day, every hour that passes, another killer could walk free because of this outdated law. I will fight with every breath in my body for justice and I will not let down the 243,000 signers of my Change.org petition.”
Ballard has lent his voice to the campaign, coinciding with today’s International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT).
“We all flirt all the time,” Ballard said.
“If any straight men were to be so offended by my advances that they proceeded to stab me multiple times and then dump my body in a wheelie bin, I’d like to think the justice system would prosecute them to the full extent of the law. That’s why you should all support Father Kelly’s Change.org petition.”