South Australia becomes the last state to scrap ‘gay panic’ murder defence

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12/01/2020

South Australia has abolished “gay panic” as a defence in crimes of violence with state parliament passing legislation to end the “downright offensive” provisions. It’s the last state in Australia to do so. The provocation defence could previously be used as a legal strategy to downgrade a charge of murder to manslaughter if the accused argued they lost control and became violent after the victim made an unwanted sexual advance. The provocation clause has been used four times in the last ten years but in a slew of cases between 1993 and 1995, at least 13 defendants successfully applied this defence in New South Wales alone. The change also follows an investigation by the Human Rights Law Centre which recommended in 2018 that the defence be abolished. “This is a law that is clearly rooted in discrimination, completely out of step with community standards and has absolutely no justification today,” said Lee Carnie, a lawyer at the Human Rights Law Centre.

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