Greens Senator Robert Simms says the law “legitimises homophobia in Australia.”
Over a year has passed since Queensland lawmakers pledged to abolish the 'gay panic' defence from law. The defence allows a person accused of murder to assert that they were prompted to kill someone by unwanted advances.
Catholic Priest Father Paul Kelly is at the forefront of the campaign to reform the law. His church grounds became the site of a violent 'gay panic' attack in 2008. Kelly said that when the two perpetrators claimed they lost control and attacked the victim because he made homosexual advances, “it shocked me that that was even raised, or that that might even be some kind of mitigating circumstance. That just seems such an archaic law and tantamount to enshrining bigotry and hate crime.”
Kelly has started a petition that would abolish the law and has already gained over 200,000 signatures.
Australian Greens sexuality spokesperson Senator Robert Simms said, “The idea that a murder charge could be watered down in instances of an unwanted ‘homosexual advance’ would be alarming to most Australians. While other states abolished the defence more than a decade ago, South Australia and Queensland are yet to follow suit, even after Queensland pledged a year ago to abolish the law.”
“It’s shameful that my home state of South Australia, the first state to decriminalise homosexuality, is lagging on abolishing this archaic defence," he continued. “The law legitimises homophobia in Australia. It is this dangerous attitude that perpetuates homophobic bullying within our nation’s schools and workplaces.”
Simms plans on introducing a motion in the Senate when Parliament resumes “to ask the South Australian and Queensland government to dump this outdated and homophobic defence.”
Father Kelly’s Petition can be found here.