On Tuesday, South Australia finally abolished its backwards ‘gay panic’ provocation defence, becoming the last state in Australia to do so, despite SA being the first the decriminalise homosexuality.
The ‘gay panic’ defence, (which has been used four times in the last decade), is a claim that was available to straight individuals to reduce their sentence to manslaughter by defending that their violent actions were provoked by their victim being homosexual, or making advances upon them – thus the panic.
Needless to say, it’s a highly discriminatory defence, and allows for the murder of members of the LGBT+ community to be seen as justifiable in the eyes of courts. Good riddance to the ‘gay panic’ laws, they will not be missed.
According to the ABC, the revisions to the defence passed both houses of South Australia’s parliament with help from Opposition and crossbenchers.
South Australian Attorney-General Vickie Chapman told State Parliament on Tuesday that “the defence has been criticised for being complex, gender-biased and for encouraging victim-blaming.”
“It is at odds with community expectations that regardless of the degree of provocation, ordinary people should not resort to lethal violence,” she said.
“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.
“Notwithstanding the offence was rarely successful in this context, its operation… is offensive and unacceptable.”
Truly, I could not have said it better myself.
There has been official pushes for SA to remove the discriminatory law since 2018, when the South Australian Law Reform report was released, highlighting how backwards the law truly is. The main case they highlighted was the example of Adelaide man Andrew Negre, who was killed in 2011 after making a joke around being gay.
His murderer, Michael Lindsay, told the court that Negre’s sexuality and ‘unwanted advances’ caused him to ‘lose control’, which is a highly homophobic defence to make in a murder trial, but alas, it was acceptable then.
Now, two years on from that report, something has finally been done about this law.
‘Gay panic’ in any form should just not exist, and it’s incredible that it’s finally been eradicated from this country for good.