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Law

Horrific ‘gay panic’ defence set to be finally eradicated across Australia

Patrick Kelleher October 16, 2020
Gay panic defence Australia

The 'gay panic' defence is set to be banned in South Australia (Envato Elements)

South Australia is planning to ban the horrific “gay panic” defence in court cases, meaning the practice would be illegal all across the country.

The gay panic defence has been used in numerous murder cases over the years. The controversial legal strategy claims that discovering a victim’s sexuality or gender identity caused the defendant to suffer from a state of temporary insanity, leading to violence and murder.

The practice has been banned in numerous countries and territories across the world, with many parliaments recognising that it is dehumanising and harmful to LGBT+ people.

All states in Australia have banned the gay panic defence from being used in court – except South Australia. Now, the territory is finally gearing up to ban the practice in a move that has been widely praised by LGBT+ rights organisations.

The South Australia government introduced a bill yesterday that will ban the use of gay panic defences in court.

The bill, tabled by the state’s attorney general Vickie Chapman, will be discussed by the territory’s parliament at a sitting in November, Reuters reports.

LGBT+ activists in South Australia say it is ’embarrassing’ that it has taken this long to ban the gay panic defence.

Gay panic defences have been used in South Australia as recently as 2015, according to Equality Australia. The state’s parliament finally moved to ban the practice after 25,000 people signed a petition asking that such defences be disallowed in court.

The petition also called for better hate crime laws to ensure that LGBT+ people are better protected.

“The gay panic defence is probably the biggest legal issue that LGBTIQ+ South Australians are concerned about when they talk with the South Australian Rainbow Advocacy Alliance (SARAA),” said Matthew Morris, chair of the group, in a statement.

“As the first state in Australia to decriminalise homosexuality, it’s embarrassing that we are the last to abolish this outdated legal defence. We welcome this reform and hope that all politicians will support its passage.”

Meanwhile, Anna brown, CEO of Equality Australia, said: “This long overdue reform is an important step along the way to ending discrimination against LGBTIQ+ people in our laws.

“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.”

More: Australia, equality australia, gay panic, South Australia

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