'Gay panic defence' to be scrapped in NSW
A bill to close the loophole allowing for the ‘gay panic defense’ was passed in the Lower House on Wednesday, heralding what gay rights advocates are calling “the end of the most homophobic legal defence on the statute books in NSW”.
The Crimes Amendment (Provocation) Bill 2014 effectively removes the legal foundation for the use of the Homosexual Advance Defence, a common-law creation of the partial defence of provocation, in cases involving a non-violent sexual advance.
In the past the Homosexual Advance Defence has successfully been used by people who would otherwise likely have been convicted of murder, to instead be convicted of manslaughter and thereby receive more lenient sentences, after claiming they were provoked by someone’s alleged sexual advances.
This has occurred a number of times, exclusively in cases involving a non-violent sexual advance by a male towards another male.
The NSW Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby said the bill delivers a clear message that anti-gay violence will not be tolerated.
“The NSW GLRL has fought for years to end this homophobic and bi-phobic legislation and we welcome the passage of this Bill,” said GLRL co-convenor Justin Koonin.
“It sends a strong message that violence against people because of their sexual orientation is unacceptable and will certainly not be accepted as an excuse for murder.”
Independent MP for Sydney Alex Greenwich said the bill's passing was 'historic'.
“This important piece of legislation ends the so called “gay panic defence” that treated the lives of gay men as less than that of others.”
“It shocked and surprised many that the law could previously be used in a way that treated male homosexual romantic advances as so offensive to justify murder while treating the equivalent heterosexual advances as merely unwanted and awkward”
“I commend the work of the Select Committee on the partial defence of provocation on their inquiry which lead to this bill, and acknowledge the contribution of all of its members including the Hon. Rev Fred Nile and the Hon. Trevor Khan”
GLRL's Koonin extended the organisation’s praise to the community and parliamentarians that supported, and lobbied for, reform.
“We commend community members who have fought to ensure this issue remained on the agenda over the past two decades, and we thank members of the NSW Parliament who voted in favour of this legislation,” Koonin said.
“Our special thanks go to members of the Legislative Council Select Committee Inquiry into the Partial Defence of Provocation, including the Hon. Trevor Khan MLC, the Hon. Helen Westwood MLC, the Hon. David Shoebridge MLC, the Hon. Scot MacDonald MLC, the Hon. Adam Searle MLC, the Hon. David Clarke MLC and the Chair, Rev. the Hon. Fred Nile MLC, who should all be commended for their hard work and sheer determination in seeing this vital piece of law reform through.”