'Gay panic' defence axed in Australia state

2017-03-22 12:24


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Sydney - A law that has been used by alleged killers as a partial defence to unwanted homosexual advances has been scrapped in an Australian state, with campaigners hailing it a victory for equality.

Queensland's parliament late on Tuesday passed an amendment to the criminal code to remove the so-called "gay panic" defence for accused murderers trying to reduce their charge to the lesser crime of manslaughter.

"Queensland's criminal code must not be seen to condone violence against the gay community, or indeed any community," Queensland's Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Yvette D'Ath said in a statement.

"The passing of this legislation sends an important message that discrimination is not acceptable and that we value the LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, and intersex) community."

South Australia is now the only state allowing the "gay panic" defence.

In 2008, two men who bashed 45-year-old Wayne Ruks in a Queensland church ground were jailed for manslaughter after claiming he had made an unwanted homosexual pass against one of them.

Ruks' mother, Joyce Kujala, welcomed the change and thanked campaigners, including Catholic priest Paul Kelly, who had pushed for the reforms after her son's death in his church yard.

"It can't bring Wayne back but it's some small justice and it could save a lot of lives in future," Kujala said.

Kelly, whose change.org petition against the law attracted 290 000 signatures, said he was breathing a sigh of relief that the "homophobic, archaic and outdated law" had been axed.

Read more on:    australia  |  gay rights

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