Nassau man freed after using gay panic defence at murder trial
A 25-year-old man in the Bahamas walked free from court last week after claiming a man he murdered made a sexual advance towards him.
Frederick Green-Neely told a court in Nassau that he stabbed Dale Williams three times as he tried to flee Mr Williams’ home.
The defendant said that Mr Williams, the brother of a prominent local politician, accepted an invitation into the murdered man’s home in February 2004.
He claimed Mr Williams revealed he was sexually attracted to Green-Neely and tried to grab him. He was stabbed as Green-Neely fled the scene.
Prosecutors argued that the defendant had used excessive force, but the jury backed Green-Neely.
The Nassau Guardian reported that defence lawyer Dorsey McPhee told jurors his client was “defending his manhood.”
“This man deserves to go home to be with his family. The death, we are saying, was justified.
“Show the nation you don’t impose yourself on somebody, because one day you just might meet the wrong person.”
Green-Neely was acquited of murder last week.
The case is an example of the “gay panic defence,” which allows a person charged with murder to claim that they were driven into a state of violent temporary insanity by a sexual advance from the victim.
Its use often sparks outrage from the gay community around the world because it places the burden of blame on the victim.
It has also been used in cases of violent against transgender or transsexual persons.
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There is also no equivalent defence relating to heterosexual encounters.
The defence is most frequently used in the United States, particularly in areas where homophobia is widespread.
In the UK, where it is also referred to as the “Portsmouth defence” or “guardsman’s defence”, the Crown Prosecution Service states that:
“The fact that the victim made a sexual advance on the defendant does not, of itself automatically provide the defendant with a defence of self-defence for the actions that take place.
“Often, the sexual advance made by the victim will not involve any physical act of touching, and the reaction of the defendant is borne out of anger rather than any real belief that they were acting to protect themselves from an assault.”
The Bahamas is one of fourteen British Overseas Territories which are under the sovereignty of the United Kingdom, but not considered part of the UK itself.