Comedian Tom Ballard has called for the axing of Queensland and South Australia’s “gay panic” legal defences in an online video to coincide with the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT).
The gay panic defence is a partial defence that has been used in recent years to attempt to reduce murder charges to manslaughter in cases where it was claimed the male victim provoked their male attacker with an unwanted sexual advance.
Tom has urged people to back Queensland priest Father Paul Kelly’s years-long campaign to abolish the defence by signing his Change.org petition, which has 243,000 signatures.
Fr Kelly became involved after two men accused of murdering a man on his church grounds claimed they were provoked after their victim came onto them.
Now Tom has offered his frank assessment of the “gay panic” laws in the video for Change.org.
“I’m here to talk about ‘gay panic,’ and not the gay panic that you get when your wi-fi is down and there’s a new episode of Rupaul’s Drag Race. A different kind, that’s in our legal system,” he said.
“If any straight men were to be so offended by my advances that they proceeded to stab me multiple times and then dump my body in a wheelie bin, I’d like to think the justice system would prosecute them to the full extent of the law.
“That’s why you should all support Father Kelly’s Change.org petition.”
Last week, Queensland Attorney-General Yvette D’ath said the government was circulating a draft of the amendments to the defence “between key legal stakeholders” and hoped to introduce them to state parliament later this year.
“Amendments that touch on criminal defences are always highly complex and technical and must strike the right balance between protecting the community while also protecting the rights of the individual accused,” she said.
“Queensland’s criminal code must not be seen to condone violence against the gay community, or indeed any community.”
The abolishing of the defence has cross-party support. Former Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg, who was behind an LNP push last year to axe the laws, said doing so is “fair and just”.
“Given it was my policy initiative I’d absolutely support it,” he told the Warwick Daily News.
“I felt the law as it stood was and is potentially being abused to excuse unforgivable actions that have caused people harm.”
Last week, Father Kelly welcomed the Queensland government’s progress but was concerned by the “leisurely pace at which governments are treating this homophobic, disturbing law.”