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Australian MP: Gay panic murder defence must be abolished

Joe Williams May 8, 2015

A MP in Australia has demanded that the so-called gay panic defence for murder be abolished, after the retrial of a man responsible for a fatal attack.

Michael Joseph Lindsay was jailed for 23 years after being found guilty of murdering Andrew Negre, who was beaten and stabbed to death in 2011.

However, Lindsay appealed the decision in the High Court, with his lawyer claiming that Mr Negre had caused Lindsay to lose control by making ‘unwanted sexual advances’ and on Wednesday, the High Court ruled in Lindsay’s favour, as they quashed his conviction and ordered a retrial.

The court ruled that provocation may have been a motive for Lindsay’s crime, stating it “had a larger dimension than merely an unwanted homosexual advance on a heterosexual man”, listing other factors, such as Mr Negre being a guest at Lindsay’s home.

Provocation of this kind can act as a partial defence in Southern Australia, leading a reduction in the charges brought from murder down to manslaughter.

In reaction to the ruling, Greens MP Tammy Franks said that the case shows the “gay panic” defence remains part of the law and that a parliamentary committee has decided to reopen a review into the matter.

“It only applies when it’s claimed that it was a homosexual male advance,” she told ABC News.

“It’s offensive, it’s homophobic, it needs to be removed from South Australia’s culture.

“This defence only applies in the case of a man who has killed another man.

“It doesn’t apply if a woman makes a non-violent sexual advance to a man or a woman. It doesn’t apply if a man makes a non-violent sexual advance to a woman.”

Ms Franks originally introduced a bill to abolish the “gay panic” defence back in 2013, when Lindsay was convicted, but no further action was taken.

She welcomed the decision to reopen the review, saying: “The chair of the legislative committee, who inquired into my bill in the first place, announced that they’d reopen their inquiry.

“I think that’s an admission that the committee got it wrong and I hope the Parliament can get it right.”

Australian opposition leader Bill Shorten last week rejected calls from his party to whip its MPs to support same-sex marriage.

More: Australia, Australia, gay panic defence, homphobia, Law, murder, tammy franks

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