QLS applauds state government’s removal of “gay panic’’ defence
22 March 2017
Queensland’s peak solicitor body has commended the state government for the removal of the antiquated and discriminatory "gay panic defence” from its criminal statutes.
President Christine Smyth on Wednesday (Mar 22) said QLS had thrown its support behind the proposed removal of the use of the defence by an accused violent offender on the grounds the attack was triggered by an unwanted sexual advance.
Ms Smyth said the Society supported the move since it was first mooted last year and backed that position up in a submission to a Queensland Parliamentary Committee hearing in January.
“The QLS and its members strongly opposed the gay panic defence and legislation that has a discriminatory effect on any individual," she said.
“The decision by the Queensland Government to remove this antiquated and discriminatory defence from the criminal statutes is a very strong and clear message that the law is in keeping with current community standards and expectations.
“QLS is pleased we were consulted by the state government about the proposed changes. Even more so that our our point of view was adopted."
In its submission to the Parliamentary Committee, QLS commended the policy rationale of the Bill.
"We had limited concerns to the wording of draft legislation.
"For example, it would be concerning if this defence were not open to a defendant where the victim had sexually assaulted or raped the defendant, or where the victim had sexually abused the defendant as a child," Ms Smyth said in the submission.
She said the Bill attempted to cater to those example by using the term "circumstances of an exceptional character". However, the term was not defined in the Bill.
Ms Smyth said while the government did not embrace QLS’s submission to better define the wording of the legislation, she had absolute confidence in the courts to administer the legislation effectively.
Ms Smyth said QLS would continue to oppose legislation that had a discriminatory effect.
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