Gay panic ditched as partial murder defence

UPDATE March 22: THE gay panic defence has been scrapped in a move that will have murder defendants unable to rely on unwanted sexual advancements as a defence.

Queensland Parliament moved the Criminal Law Amendment Bill overnight on Tuesday.

Ipswich West MP Jim Madden said he was "pleased that this archaic legal defence has been removed from our Queensland legal system".

In a speech to parliament Mr Madden said the legislation sent an important message that discrimination was "not acceptable and that we value the LBGTI community".

He said under old legislation unwanted sexual advance could be used as a partial defence, leading to a murder charge being reduced to manslaughter.

UPDATE: THE gay panic defence is well and truly due to be scrapped from the Criminal Code, according to Member for Ipswich Jennifer Howard.

Ms Howard said the partial murder defence was "absolutely archaic".

Ipswich MP Jennifer Howard is excited about a new public service department coming to Ipswich. Photo: Rob Williams / The Queensland Times
Ipswich MPJennifer Howard Rob Williams

"It's about time. Obviously this law demonstrates the fact there is still discrimination happening out there and it's not acceptable," she said.


"I'm not sure how often it was actually used, it was just one of those anomalies that has to be fixed.

"We introduced unions for same sex couples and changed laws round the age of consent for homosexual males. This is a progressive government and we believe in values for all regardless of sexual preferences."

INITIAL: THE gay panic defence allows defendants charged with murder to have their criminal responsibility reduced to manslaughter if the victim made an unwanted sexual advance to them.

It's a partial defence of provocation under the Criminal Code Member for Ipswich West Jim Madden thinks shouldn't exist.

Set to speak in Parliament last night, Mr Madden said the Criminal Law Amendment Bill presented by Attorney General Yvette D'Ath presented a solid case to have the defence scrapped.

"The Criminal Law Amendment act takes away the gay panic defence. Under our Criminal Code currently if you murdered somebody you can plead there was a gay approach made you and that lessens the penalty that can apply. It's an important bit of legislation," Mr Madden said.


"The objectives of the Bill are to ensure that a person who commits murder cannot rely on unwanted sexual advance on the basis of the partial defence of provocative which if successfully raised reduces the criminal responsibility from murder to manslaughter."

He said the current legislation was unclear if the defence applied to lesbians.

"It seems to be just gay as opposed to heterosexual advance and it's a little ambiguous as to whether it would cover lesbians as well as male homosexuals," Mr Madden said.

"The gay panic defence is essentially a defence strategy in murder cases, based on common law, whereby evidence of an unwelcome sexual advance made by the purportedly gay victim towards the accused is led in support of establishing the defence of provocation."

The Criminal Law Amendment Act also sets out to:

  • Increase the penalty for interfering with a corpse from two to five years imprisonment and add the offence to the violent offence regime.
  • Clarify that public service officers can be appropriately authorised to provide services in their private capacity.
  • Deal with the confiscation of illegally obtained proceeds of crime that is a key strategy for disrupting criminal activity.
  • Include amendments to improve the operation of criminal law related practices and procedures.