|Queensland attorney general Yvette D’Ath (middle) with father Paul Kelly on Wednesday during the announcement of the Queensland government’s reform bill. Photograph: change.org|
|Father Paul Kelly|
Unbelievably the so called "gay panic" law is still on the books in Queensland and South Australia. This means that a gay person could be murdered for any reason, but because he was gay the gay panic law can be used as a defence; that is, that the gay person made sexual advances to the murderer and the murderer panicked and killed him.
This is so wrong on so many levels I'm not sure where to start. It defends homophobia and entrenches the notion that gays are sickos causing panic to people that get near. The law discriminates against gays by specifically targeting them and who they may come on to. As if a gay person would come on to a homophobe anyway as it's just asking for trouble, not to mention rejection. What would be the point? The law was obviously written by straight people decades ago.
Perhaps even more unbelievable is that the gay panic law was recently used in Queensland, when a straight man was murdered in a church yard and the defendants used the gay panic law to get the charges downgraded to manslaughter. One of them spent only 4 years in jail for it.
The Catholic Priest, Father Paul Kelly. who runs the church where the murder happened was appalled and started an online petition to get the gay panic laws off the books. The petition gained 290,000 signatures and it's that petition that has been the motivating force behind removing these laws. Now finally it will be taken off the books early next year with bipartisan support.
It's not often I have any praise for a Catholic priest, but on this occasion Father Paul Kelly deserves much congratulations for his tenacity and determination over the last 4 years, and finally succeeding to expunge these archaic laws.
This from his email:
Being a priest, I never intended to start this campaign. But a man was killed in my churchyard, and the killers used this ‘gay panic’ laws in court as an excuse to downgrade murder to manslaughter. One of the killers walked free just four years into a nine year sentence. That was so wrong and unfair to me – I had to do something. So I started a petition on Change.org.Read more about it here.
For four years, the small team behind Change.org have helped with providing this free platform, advice and support on getting media. It’s helped gather hundreds of thousands of signatures. Media like The Project, News.com, Courier Mail covered the story. Celebrities like Stephen Fry, Missy Higgins, Tom Ballard, Rove McManus, and others supported our campaign. All this heaped pressure on the QLD government to act, and not delay this homophobic law’s abolition for one day longer.
Now, the laws being introduced yesterday will end this homophobic defence for murder and are set to pass parliament officially in early 2017 with bipartisan support. South Australia have agreed to follow suit soon too.