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Campaign launched to repeal 'gay panic' defence in South Australia

LGBTQIA+ advocates have launched a petition to fight a relic of South Australian law, known colloquially as the ‘gay panic’ defence.

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The law allows for criminal charges to be downgraded for a killer, if the victim was of the same gender and flirting with the attacker.

“Laws that legitimise and excuse violent and lethal behaviour against any member of the LGBTIQ+ community have no place here,” the petition from Equality Australia and South Australian Rainbow Advocacy Alliance reads.

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

The petition also highlights that the defence had been deployed in courts as recently as 2015.

“Courts should be required to consider whether hate or prejudice towards a person or group of persons was a motivating factor in a crime, and this should be reflected in the sentence,” the statement continues.

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

Back in 2017, reforms to South Australian criminal law were proposed after a South Australian Law Reform report on the issue.

“Provocation is a highly complex and controversial issue, with gender bias and family violence as well as discrimination against gay people among its key challenges,” the Director of the SA Law Reform Institute, University of Adelaide’s Professor John Williams, said at the time.

“The current law of provocation indirectly sanctions lethal violence against those who seem to exhibit homosexual behaviour.”

“It’s clear to us that the gay panic aspect of the current provocation defence is offensive and should be removed, and that any non-violent sexual advance of any kind should not amount to provocation.”

South Australia is still the only state in Australia to allow for the ‘gay panic’ defence, after Queensland amended legislation three years ago.

OIP Staff


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