Australia’s Gay Panic Defence Get Challenged

July 16th, 2012

Straight Panic Defence: A man punches a woman in the throat, screaming "I'm Gay!"

Slap reader Tim writes in with this bit of news from Down Under:

The gay panic defence has been a very real—and very unjust—legal tool in the past, including in Canada. Up here, it’s been invoked to explain assaults as recently as 2010, but has been considered a legal non-starter since its last successful use in 1994. (The murder of David Gaspard by Gary Gilroy was punished with a reduced sentence of only five years in prison after his killer cited gay panic as the reason for stabbing his victim 65 times.)

While this sort of bizarre logic is considered an antiquated relic nowadays, it’s strange to hear that Queensland still permits it. Stranger still, The Premier of Queensland, Campbell Newman, has actually defended it, calling its revocation “unnecessary.” Newman is no friend of the GLBT community, though. His government rolled back civil unions and cancelled funding for the state’s GLBT health service, the Queensland Association for Healthy Communities.

As for the gay panic defence, though, there’s something you can do: A petition has been started calling for the end of this legal antiquity, which has had no just purpose even when it was introduced in the 17th century. So, if you’re concerned about what’s happening in Queensland and you’ve got a few moments to spare, why not go and show your support?