‘Gay panic’ defence to murder abolished Australia-wide

2 December 2020 – Yesterday, the South Australia Parliament passed a Bill outlawing the so called “gay panic” defence to murder. This marks the end of the defence in every Australian jurisdiction.

This long-overdue reform is an important step along the way to ending discrimination against LGBTIQ+ people in our laws.

The Bill abolishes the common law defence of provocation. The defence can reduce a conviction of murder to manslaughter in circumstances where a heterosexual man has killed another man for making a ‘pass’ at him. The defence was most recently used in South Australia five years ago.

The reform comes after more than 38,000 people signed Equality Australia and the South Australian Rainbow Advocacy Alliance’s petition in the last 8 weeks. The petition called for South Australia to abolish the defence and follow the leads of Victoria, New South Wales and the Northern Territory in ensuring courts consider the real impact of hate crimes on victims. 

“Together we’ve ensured that the defence is abolished. Now we will be working to make sure that our laws address crimes motivated by hate or prejudice,” said Anna Brown, CEO of Equality Australia.

“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. Our laws should condemn prejudice, not condone it,”

“The Sentencing Act should be amended so that, when courts are considering a punishment, they must look at the full extent of the harm done to victims when crimes are motivated by hate or prejudice”. Brown finished.

Matthew Morris, Chair of the South Australian Rainbow Advocacy Alliance (SARAA) said ‘We’re glad to finally see this outdated law abolished. This announcement comes after years of advocacy from community members and supportive politicians of all parties. The news was swiftly met with celebration from many LGBTIQ+ South Australians and we thank everyone who helped this Bill finally come to pass”.

Media Contact: Tara Ravens. 0408 898 154, tara.ravens@equalityaustralia.org.au