Petition calls for South Australia to scrap ‘gay panic’ defence


south australian attorney general vicki chapman
Photo: Facebook

South Australia LGBTIQ advocates have started a petition urging the state government to finally repeal the state’s archaic “gay panic” defence.

The provocation defence allows a court to downgrade a murder conviction to one of manslaughter in certain circumstances.

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Outrageously, this includes allowing a heterosexual man accused of murder to claim they were “provoked” by a non-violent homosexual advance.

South Australian Rainbow Advocacy Alliance (SARAA) said a murder accused had used the defence as recently as 2015. They said the government must scrap the “demeaning” law.

“Laws that legitimise and excuse violent and lethal behaviour against any member of the LGBTIQ+ community have no place here,” SARAA chair Matthew Morris wrote.

“Attacking someone because who they are offends you should increase your punishment, not reduce it.

“Our laws must condemn prejudice, not condone it.”

The South Australian parliament will soon consider legislation to amend the bill, introduced by Attorney-General Vickie Chapman (pictured).

SARAA is also calling for the state to go further to protect victims of hate crime.

“Courts should be required to consider whether hate or prejudice towards a person or group of persons was a motivating factor in a crime,” Morris wrote.

“We call for prejudice-motivated conduct to be added as a sentencing factor, like it is in NSW, Victoria and the Northern Territory.”

You can sign SARAA’s Change.org petition here.

Attorney-General unveiled draft legislation

In July, South Australia Attorney-General Vickie Chapman introduced draft legislation on the issue for feedback.

“The fact is, the law as it stands is outdated, gender biased, difficult to understand and, in certain cases, downright offensive,” Chapman said.

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“Most notably, in the case of what’s become commonly known as the ‘gay panic’ defence.

“However, it is also an incredibly complex area of law. There are aspects where a similar defence is warranted in exceptional circumstances.

“[This could include] a case where a victim of prolonged domestic violence retaliates against their abuser.

“This is why reform – while necessary – cannot be rushed.

“In this draft legislation, we have endeavoured to take measures to ensure those extreme circumstances have been taken into account.”

South Australia last state to repeal ‘gay panic’ defence

In a 2018 report, the South Australia Law Reform Institute (SARLI) recommended the government abolish the defence.

However they said the situation was complex in relation to domestic and family violence.

“Care must be taken to avoid establishing a new well-intentioned model, which may have undesirable and unintended consequential impacts in practice,” SARLI said.

However, SARLI also found the “current [provocation] law favours men over women and is especially unfair to women who have been subjected to family violence.”

The report recommended the government introduce or revise defences of self-defence and duress for victims of domestic and family violence.

South Australia is the last state or territory in the country to end the archaic “gay panic” defence.

In 2017, the Queensland government passed legislation scrapping the state’s equivalent law.

It came after a Queensland priest’s petition attracted 290,000 signatures after the bashing death of a man by two others in his churchyard.

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