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Govt to amend 'gay panic' defence

Chris Foley signs Fr Paul Kelly’s petition to overturn the use of “gay panic” as a partial defence in murder cases.
Chris Foley signs Fr Paul Kelly’s petition to overturn the use of “gay panic” as a partial defence in murder cases. Karleila Thomsen

MARYBOROUGH priest Paul Kelly has hailed a "victory for common sense" after the government announced changes to the "gay panic" defence - but it has not gone far enough, he said.

Father Kelly's online petition to remove the defence of homosexual provocation has gained more than 24,000 signatures and sparked international media attention.

Yesterday, Attorney-General Paul Lucas announced changes to the Criminal Code to "remove doubts" about how and when a partial defence involving a sexual advance could be used.

Following advice from a committee set up to examine the laws, Mr Lucas said section 304 would be amended to ensure that an unwanted sexual advance would not be enough to claim provocation, unless there were exceptional circumstances.

"It is not possible to remove sexual advances completely without affecting situations such as that of a battered woman, who knows that her refusal of a sexual advance from her partner is a precursor to assault and she takes immediate action to stop this from happening," he said.

But Father Kelly said other places, including Victoria, had managed to separate the two issues.

"In other states, battered spouses are effectively defended under other legislation such as self-defence," he said. "That is a completely different experience to a homosexual advance."

Father Kelly said he was still worried the government was "tinkering at the edges" of the problem rather than completely eliminating the defence.

"My concern is that the 'exceptional circumstances' provision will still allow defence lawyers to pollute juries by raising the gay panic defence," he said.

Following the announcement of the March 24 election, Father Kelly also called on the LNP to match the government's commitment.

LNP shadow attorney-general Jarrod Bleijie said he would take the proposed amendments to the shadow cabinet for consideration but it was impossible to completely remove the partial defence.

Topics:  gay marriage, government, petition


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