Archbishop of Brisbane Phillip Aspinall has joined the crusade to have Queensland’s “gay panic” murder defence abolished.
Speaking after his Easter Sunday mass, Dr Aspinall (pictured) said he supported Catholic priest Father Paul Kelly in his calls for the Homosexual Advance Defence to be removed from Queensland common law.
The defence means a murder charge may be reduced to manslaughter if the defendant establishes their victim “came on” to them, and the killing was in self-defence.
“I think Father Paul Kelly is on the right track, well and truly,” Dr Aspinall told AAP.
“I don’t think it’s reasonable to murder someone who approaches you sexually. Violence is never a constructive response.”
Fr Kelly began his crusade to abolish the defence after Wayne Robert Ruks, 45, was fatally bashed by Jason Andrew Pearce, 38, and Richard John Meerdink, 41, on his Maryborough church grounds in 2010.
Fr Kelly had organised an online petition attracting more than 220,000 signatures from those desperate to end the defence but he said successive governments had been slow to act.
“I am frustrated because it just seems to be a no-brainer,” Fr Kelly told The Courier-Mail. “It continues to give the impression that Queensland may be a tardy and homophobic state.”
Criminal lawyer Bill Potts has successfully used the defence in a murder trial but said there was no place for it in contemporary law.
“It’s archaic, homophobic and often unreasonable,” Mr Potts said.
Gay rights groups have applauded Fr Kelly for speaking out.
“As long as this defence can potentially be used to justify murdering gays, this reinforces a culture of intolerance and hate,” Brisbane LGBTIQ Action Group convener Phil Brown said.