‘Gay panic’ a legit defence for murder?

Usually I’m pretty proud of this small patch of grass that I call home. But I learnt something today that has made me ashamed to call myself a Queenslander.

What caused me to rethink my loyalty to the Sunshine State?

It was the realisation that someone can quite literally get away with murder in Queensland, if they state that they were afraid of being hit on by a member of the same sex.


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It’s known as ‘gay panic’ and it’s about as fair and legitimate as a counterfeit $50 note.

It all boils down to what is known as the ‘palliative defence of provocation’.

This is a defence that can, if accepted by the judge or jury, result in a killer being convicted of the much lesser charge of manslaughter, rather than murder.

Now, as with many things that end up doing more harm than good, the partial defence of provocation probably wasn’t intended to be misused in the way it has been.

Unfortunately, however, it seems to mainly serve defendants who have completely unreasonable issues and prejudices.

This sad fact has been highlighted in a petition drafted recently by Reverend Paul Kelly, a Catholic priest in Brisbane.

Reverend Kelly argues, quite rightly, that we must fight back against “gay panic” being used as a basis for the defence of provocation and, essentially, an excuse for murder in Queensland.

I wholeheartedly agree with him.

In the petition, Rev. Kelly refers to the tragic killing of Wayne Ruks, who was beaten to death in the Reverend’s churchyard in 2008. One of Ruks’s killers, Jason Andrew Pearce, relied upon provocation on the basis that the victim had made a “homosexual advance” towards one of the killers.

According to Pearce, this alleged advance precipitated the beating that killed the victim.

It’s utterly disgraceful that in this apparently enlightened age – emphasis on the word apparently – “gay panic” could possibly be any sort of excuse for harming another human being.

If you haven’t already, I urge you to sign the petition, and help to remove what Reverend Kelly rightly described as a “dark ages loophole” from our justice system.

The Meddler

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