Stephen Fry has backed an Australian Catholic priest’s petition to totally eliminate the “gay panic” defence from Queensland’s criminal courts.
Fry posted the petition on his Twitter account at the request of Queensland resident Mark Tweedale, as the number of signatories surpassed 10,000.
The petition should now trigger a debate in the Queensland parliament, following an assurance made by Ted Sorensen, LNP Member for the Queensland city of Hervey Bay.
The so-called “gay panic” partial defence has been invoked by defendants in murder cases trying to downgrade their charge to manslaughter.
The reasoning is that the victim had made a gay advance on his killer, and they lost control of their actions as a result.
Fry re-tweeted a request by Tweedale to publicise the efforts to ensure the law is eradicated.
The Australian asked Fry: “Do you mind RTing this? I live in Queensland and I find this law utterly disgusting.”
Tweedale said a huge spike in signature’s followed Fry’s tweet.
Father Kelly, who was made aware of the “gay panic” defence after a man was murdered outside his church, says it is unfair and damaging to a trial that the defence can even be raised, even if it is unsuccessful.
Introducing the petition, Father Kelly says: “It is simply intolerable that anyone can rely on a defence or an excuse that an alleged homosexual advance could somehow mitigate against violence that leads to death.”
The Catholic priest added recently: “Laws like the ‘gay panic’ defence are a crucial part of legitimising and reinforcing a culture of hate which means that 73% of gay and lesbian Queenslanders are subjected to verbal abuse or physical violence for their sexuality.
“Queensland is now one of the last states upholding the idea that a person can be panicked enough by homosexual people to justify grievously bashing them to the point that they die, no matter how mild the alleged action.
“In addition, the mere introduction of this evidence arguably pollutes jury deliberations.”