October 15 2020
The SA Government is today expected to introduce a Bill outlawing the so called “gay panic” defence to murder.
It is expected that the Bill will, among other things, abolish the common law defence of provocation.
The provocation defence has been used to reduce convictions of murder to manslaughter in circumstances where a heterosexual man has killed another man for making a ‘pass’ at him. It was raised in a case in South Australia as recently as 2015, the last state to allow the defence.In the past week, more than 25,000 people, including 2,500 based in Adelaide, have signed the petition asking for the removal of the defence, and for stronger laws to protect victims of hate crime.
Petitioners have called for South Australia to follow the lead of Victoria, New South Wales and the Northern Territory in ensuring courts consider the real impact of hate crimes on victims. 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.
“The gay panic defence is probably the biggest legal issue that LGBTIQ+ South Australians are concerned about when they talk with SARAA. As the first state in Australia to decriminalise homosexuality, it’s embarrassing that we are the last to abolish this outdated legal defence.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” says Matthew Morris, Chair of the South Australian Rainbow Advocacy Alliance (SARAA)
Equality Australia CEO, Anna Brown says“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”.
Both groups welcome the introduction of this legislation and hope that the SA Parliament will consider amendments to protect all victims of hate crimes in sentencing decisions.