Palaszczuk Government ends “gay panic” defence

Published Tuesday, 21 March, 2017 at 05:46 PM

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice and Minister for Training and Skills
The Honourable Yvette D'Ath

The Queensland Parliament has passed legislation which removes the so-called “gay panic” defence from the Criminal Code, honouring a Palaszczuk Government election commitment.

The Criminal Law Amendment Bill amended section 304 of the Code, removing unwanted sexual advance as a partial defence of provocation for murder.

Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Yvette D’Ath said the legislation addressed an unacceptable inequality.

"Queensland's criminal code must not be seen to condone violence against the gay community, or indeed any community," Mrs D'Ath said.

“The passing of this legislation sends an important message that discrimination is not acceptable and that we value the LBGTI community.”

In the past, unwanted sexual advance could be used as a partial defence, leading to a murder charge being reduced to manslaughter.

“Equality before the law is a fundamental principle of human rights and the amendment to section 304 will ensure that this provision operates equally for all members of our community,” Mrs D’Ath said. 

The amendment has been welcomed by Father Paul Kelly, who has campaigned for change since Wayne Ruks was bashed and killed in his Maryborough church ground in 2008.

“I’m absolutely thrilled that the 290,000 signatures on my petition and support from Queensland Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath led to the axing of this homophobic, archaic and outdated law,” Father Kelly said.

“After five years of relentlessly campaigning for the gay panic defence for murder to be scrapped from the legal books in Queensland, I can today breathe a sigh of relief and accomplishment,” he said.

Wayne Ruks’ mother Joyce Kujala said she had waited eight years for this day.

“Thank you for persistence in pushing today’s outcome. It can’t bring Wayne back but it’s some small justice and it could save a lot of lives in future,” Mrs Kujala said.

The Bill also made other minor and technical amendments to Queensland’s criminal laws to support the continuing effective operation of our criminal justice system.

The changes will increase the maximum penalty from two to five years for interfering with a corpse, make the sentence for the offence cumulative, and ensure offenders serve 80% of their time, if the combined sentence is greater than 10 years.

The laws also amend the Jury Act to modernise a court’s ability to use technology in jury selection processes, including the option to communicate with prospective jurors electronically.

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