By: Paul Goldberg, Staff Writer
Queensland lawmakers passed legislation that eliminated a controversial “gay panic” defense from the justice system’s criminal code.
The code previously allowed defendants to use the lame defense measure to as an excuse for why they committed murder of an unwanted sexual advance by a Gay man. Needless to say, Queensland has been far behind the times on such legislation.
The reason why this story is getting so much attention is because two men, Jason Pearce and Richard Meerdink, used that defense in the 2008 murder of 45-year-old Wayne Ruks who was killed because according to Pearce and Meerdink, he made sexual advances towards them. Ruks’ body was discovered in the churchyard of Father Paul Kelly who is led the campaign to have that law changed.
The outrage came when prosecutors reduced the murder charge to manslaughter. Of course stigma of the LGBTQ community is still strong in Australia. Even the victim’s parents denied that Ruks was gay.
Father Kelly was determined to get rid of ‘Gay panic” and he started a Change.org petition that raised 290,000 signatures in 2011. He stated that the “The law was a “homophobic, demeaning, dangerous insult” to gay people.” posted Father Kelly. “It allows killers to walk away with paltry sentences”
This week was a great week for the LGBTQ community in Queensland but also for Father Kelly who never gave up!
“After five years of relentlessly campaigning for the ‘gay panic’ defense for murder to be scrapped from the legal books in Queensland, I can today breathe a sigh of relief and accomplishment,” said Father Kelly.
The LGBTQ community was happy that Queensland Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Yvette D’Ath said…”Removing the defense had addressed an unacceptable inequality. Queensland’s criminal code must not be seen to condone violence against the gay community, or indeed any community,” said D’Ath. “The passing of this legislation sends an important message that discrimination is not acceptable and that we value the LBGTI community.” said D’Ath.
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