South Australia abolishes ‘gay panic’ murder defence

South Australian Parliament has passed a Bill that will outlaw the ‘gay panic’ defence, becoming the final state or territory in the country to do so.

The legislative relic allowed for criminal murder charges to be downgraded for a killer, if the victim was of the same gender and flirting with the attacker, under the umbrella of “provocation”.

South Australia’s Attorney-General Vickie Chapman said she believes these new laws will strike the right balance between removing discrimination and protecting victims.

“The defence has been criticised for being complex, gender-biased and for encouraging victim-blaming,” Chapman said, speaking on the Bill.

“Sometimes referred to as the ‘gay panic’ defence, it has been controversial in its use by accused persons who have perpetrated violence against members of the gay community.”

LGBTQIA+ advocacy groups South Australian Rainbow Advocacy Alliance (SARAA) and Equality Australia are celebrating this victory, after their petition for reform gathered almost 40,000 signatures over eight weeks.

“Together we’ve ensured that the defence is abolished. Now we will be working to make sure that our laws address crimes motivated by hate or prejudice,” said Anna Brown, CEO of Equality Australia.

“Laws that legitimise and excuse violent and lethal behaviour against any member of the LGBTIQ+ community have no place anywhere in Australia. Attacking someone because who they are offends you should increase your punishment, not reduce it. Our laws should condemn prejudice, not condone it,”

“The Sentencing Act should be amended so that, when courts are considering a punishment, they must look at the full extent of the harm done to victims when crimes are motivated by hate or prejudice”. Brown finished.

Matthew Morris, Chair of SARAA said they’re glad to finally see this outdated law abolished.

“This announcement comes after years of advocacy from community members and supportive politicians of all parties. The news was swiftly met with celebration from many LGBTIQ+ South Australians and we thank everyone who helped this Bill finally come to pass”.

OIP Staff

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