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Priest to Queensland gov’t: end ‘archaic’ gay panic defence

BY NATASHA BARSOTTI – A Catholic priest in Queensland, Australia, has rebooted his campaign to stop the use of the so-called "gay panic" defence by violent offenders after the state's new attorney general, Jarrod Bleijie, said changes to the law were unnecessary, according to Pink News.

Defendants in murder cases have invoked that defence in attempts to reduce charges by claiming their victims came on to them, causing them to lose control.

Father Paul Kelly has amassed more than 100,000 signatures over the last few days to add to the roughly 60,000 his online campaign had already received, Gay Star News reports.

Kelly initiated the campaign on after the"gay panic" defence was invoked in the trial of two men charged with the 2008 murder of a man in the priest's churchyard in Maryborough. The two were eventually acquitted of murder.

Pink News reports that Queensland's previous Labour government had agreed to change the law. Moreover, new Premier Campbell Newman, whose Liberal National Party (LNP) swept aside its Labour counterpart in a March election, had said the previous government's recommendations were "certainly worthy of sensible consideration," Kelly claimed.

But upon assuming power, the attorney general's view seems to have trumped the premier's, Kelly alleged. "Sadly, it appears that the more extreme elements of the LNP have hijacked the party's position on reforming this archaic law," Kelly said, according to Pink News.

"I'm utterly appalled that a law that so revoltingly and openly discriminates against gay people is still tolerated in a modern society," Kelly said. "While almost all other state governments have abolished similar laws and refused to admit evidence of non-violent homosexual advances in murder trials, nothing has changed here. Queensland  is now one of the last states upholding the idea that a person can be panicked enough by gay and lesbian people to justify murder," the priest observed.


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