Written by Lucy Ross, edited for online by Keira Wallace
Queensland will join the majority of Australian states with plans to remove the ‘gay panic’ defence from the Criminal Code.
The Homosexual Advance Defence, also known as ‘gay panic’, has been part of Australian law since the 1990s.
Greens Sexuality Spokesman Senator Robert Simms said the delay in Queensland’s response to abolish the defence was an example of Parliament being out of step with community values.
“I think most Australian’s would regard the homosexual advancement test or’ gay panic’ defence to be a pretty abhorrent concept and would be horrified to think it is part of the law in any Australian jurisdiction,” he said.
‘Gay panic’ has been used as a defence where a defendant claims their victim made an unwanted sexual advance.
LGBTI Legal Services President and Principal Solicitor Matilda Alexander said Queensland legislation should not condone violence against the gay community and the laws need to reflect the demands of society and anti-discrimination.
“To have a defence to homophobic killing, existing in law is quite out of step with where our community standards are at the moment,” she said.
Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath announced Queensland is currently circulating a draft amendment to the section.
Ms Alexander said the ‘gay panic’ defence is based on outdated homophobic notions and contributes to the high rate of violence against the community.
“We think the existence, or implied acceptance, of the homophobic panic defence is something that contributes to society’s views around the acceptability of violence and aggression towards homosexual people because of their homosexuality,” she said.
Mr Simms agrees.
“It’s basically legitimising homophobia and saying violence is an appropriate response to an unwanted advance from someone of the same sex,” he said.
Ms Alexander said there are examples in Queensland case law where defendants have admitted to murder or manslaughter but, claim the victim was at fault by making non-violent homosexual advances.
“Those kind of comments have a very strong cultural message to people in the LGBTI community and a strong legislative response from the Attorney-General would be appropriate,” she said.
Both Ms Alexander and Mr Simms said they welcome the amendment.