Sunday, 8 January 2017

Qld: submissions close 16 Jan to get rid of gay panic defence

Submissions close on 16 January to a Queensland Parliamentary inquiry to get rid of gay panic defence in Queensland. In 2015, Queensland , along with South Australia, was urged by then Human Rights Commissioner (and now Federal Liberal MP) Tim Wilson, to get rid of gay panic defence.

How the defence works in Queensland is to murder. If an accused claims, successfully, that they killed the person who made unwanted sexual advances to them, then instead of being convicted of murder, the conviction is downgraded to manslaughter.

As part of its election commitment, the Palaszczuk government has introduced legislation to rid Queensland of gay panic defence. The Bill is called the Criminal Law Amendment Bill 2016. In my view the Bill properly gets rid of gay panic defence for murder, without prejudicing those who have killed their partners in a domestically violent relationship. It is a very sensible amendment.

The Bill has now made its way to Parliament's Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee, which is due to report back to the Parliament in February. Anyone can make a submission.

Some recent events have highlighted the need for Queensland to say, loud and clear, that it is opposed to violence against LGBTI people. Last week, a New Zealand man fell 8 metres on to train tracks in Gladstone. It remains unclear about how it happened. Police have to do their job. His husband reported that after his husband rejected the advances of a married man, the married man threw the victim off the bridge.

Over Christmas, my husband and I stayed a few days on the Gold Coast. Like thousands of others, we caught the Gold Coast's tram, the G. One day when we were riding the G, a young man came on to the G. He saw us sitting there and decided that he was going to target us: because he viewed us as gay. He clearly was in the mood for a fight. Luckily it did not happen, but it was scary.

It is a daily event that even in what are seen as the gay friendly parts of Brisbane, my husband and I receive death stares- for holding hands in public. Too often, we get yelled at in abusive and homophobic terms for just doing that, and sometimes just being who we are- without even holding hands.

Some years ago, Professor Alan Berman and Shirleene Robinson wrote about the horrendous levels of homophobic and transphobic violence in Queensland. The attitude that causes such violence remains, at least with some. A positive outcome from the Committee would be a help to combat that violence.

I have to date lobbied Attorney-Generals Cameron Dick, Paul Lucas and Yvette D'Ath to try and get rid of gay panic defence. I didn't try with Jared Bleijie, as he made it plain on coming into office that he was going to do nothing about it. To their credit, the Opposition under then Leader Lawrence Springborg said that they would support the abolition of gay panic defence. Let's hope that is the case.

The guide to making a submission is here.

Where to send the submission is here. 

Here is where to send the submission.

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