Catholic priest relaunches online protest against gay panic
A Queensland Catholic priest has relaunched an online petition against the state’s notorious ‘gay panic’ laws after hearing of recent remarks by the state’s Attorney-General saying any change was unnecessary.
Father Paul Kelly of Maryborough Catholic Church (pictured) made national headlines earlier this year when his campaign on Change.org received more than 26,000 signatures as well as the support of the likes of English comedian Stephen Fry and writer Neil Gaiman.
“The most uplifting aspect of my Change.org campaign was that it united disparate elements of the community – young and old, right and left, gay and straight – in speaking out against a discriminatory, offensive law,” Father Kelly said.
“Sadly, it appears that the more extreme elements of the LNP have hijacked the party’s position on reforming this archaic law.”
Kelly’s interest in the use of the 'non-violent homosexual advance' defence used by some accused persons in court cases involving serious assault or murder came after his church grounds were the scene of a killing in 2008.
Two men charged with murder over the crime later argued that they were panicked into anger after the victim had allegedly made a pass at one of the pair.
Kelly is hoping at least 40,000 people in total sign the petition, with 2,000 more putting their names to it in recent days.
Prior to the March state election in Queensland, the previous Labor government had convened an expert panel to review the issue before accepting a number of recommended changes to the gay panic defence.
At the time, now-Premier Campbell Newman agreed recommendations to alter the laws were “certainly worthy of sensible consideration”.
However, that view seems to have been overridden by Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie, who in recent weeks has said he believes changes are not warranted.
Speaking with ABC Radio in late June Bleijie said he didn’t think the recommendations were necessary.
“It’s been used twice in relation to same-sex, you know, homosexual [advance], where it’s now got this messaging of homosexual or gay panic defence. It’s not,” he said.
“It’s not a priority to change it.”
Change.org have said Father Kelly’s petition against Queensland’s gay panic defence law is close to being their best-supported campaign in Australia.
Sign Father Paul Kelly’s petition against Queensland’s gay panic laws at http://www.change.org/petitions/eliminate-the-gay-panic-defence-from-queensland-law-gaypanic