Australia

Australian state lawmakers vote to remove 'gay panic' defense from criminal code

Language in the code let defendants argue for a reduction to manslaughter from murder by claiming an unwanted homosexual advance provoked violence.

Language in the code let defendants argue for a reduction to manslaughter from murder by claiming an unwanted homosexual advance provoked violence.  (REUTERS/Francois Lenoir, File)

The LGTBQ community welcomed a move by lawmakers in Australia's second-largest state to cut a controversial "unwanted homosexual advances" or "gay panic" statute from the criminal code on Tuesday.

The Queensland, Australia, parliament voted Tuesday night to abolish the language that allowed defendants to argue for a reduction to manslaughter from murder by claiming an unwanted homosexual advance provoked violence.

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The effort to remove the defense was led by the a priest, Father Paul Kelly, after the 2009 fatal bashing of Wayne Ruks in his church yard. Killers raised the defense at trial, after claiming Ruks had grabbed a killers’ crotch, which incited the violent encounter.

The court used section 304 of the Criminal Code -- killing on provocation — to lessen the jail terms for Ruks’ muderers.

“The passing of this legislation sends an important message that discrimination is not acceptable and that we value the LBGTI community,” Queensland Attorney General and Minister for Justice Yvette D’Ath said.

South Australia is now the only state where the partial defense remains.