The Queensland Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee this week recommended that legislation be passed abolishing the ‘gay panic’ defence in murder cases.

The ‘gay panic’ defence particularly applies in murder cases whereby evidence of an unwelcome sexual advance by the purportedly gay victim towards the accused is lead in support of establishing the defence of provocation.

In November 2011 a Committee chaired by retired Queensland Court of Appeal Judge John Jerrard recommended this change to the law.

The Legal Affairs committee this week approved a law change before the Queensland Parliament to exclude an unwanted sexual advance, other than in exceptional circumstances, from the provocation defence to a murder charge.

The ‘gay panic’ defence (or the defence of provocation) has been abolished in every Australian State or Territory except for Queensland and South Australia and in most jurisdictions the defence has been abolished in either one of two ways:

  • By abolishing the defence of provocation entirely; or
  • By enacting a specific exception to the ‘gay panic’ defence in circumstances where a non-violent sexual offence is the only provocative conduct experienced by the defendant.

The law change is expected to be passed by the Queensland Parliament in the next month.

By Terry O’Gorman

23 February 2017