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South Australia Has Finally Ditched Its 'Gay Panic' Defence Law

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South Australia Has Finally Ditched Its 'Gay Panic' Defence Law

South Australia's parliament has finally got rid of its 'gay panic' defence law.

Despite homosexuality being decriminalised in the state in the '70s, South Australia is the last to ditch the controversial law.

Under the legislation, a person could murder someone of the same sex and have their charge downgraded to manslaughter if they argued in court that they felt provoked or threatened.

Specifically, it allowed the defendant to claim they had acted in a 'state of violent, temporary insanity, committing assault or murder' due to unwanted sexual advances. Lawyers have been able to argue the defendant found those advances so offensive that they were acting in self-defence.

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The law hasn't been used since 2011 in the state when it was utilised in the case of Andrew Negre.

Michael Joseph Lindsay was sentenced to life in prison for stabbing Andrew to death and dumping his body in a wheelie bin after Andrew made a joke about Lindsay paying for sex.

Lindsay's lawyer tried to argue that Andrew provoked him, with the joke enraging him to the point of committing murder. The 'gay panic' defence law wasn't approved in this case.

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South Australia is the last state to get rid of the law after the state's Law Reform Institute recommended its abolition in 2018.

It was revealed last year that the legislation would be removed, however it took until December 2020 for it to become official. The move to ditch the rule was supported by all sides of politics.

South Australian Attorney-General Vickie Chap told State Parliament: "The defence has been criticised for being complex, gender-biased and for encouraging victim-blaming. It is at odds with community expectations that regardless of the degree of provocation, ordinary people should not resort to lethal violence.

"Sometimes referred to as the 'gay panic' defence, it has been controversial in its use by accused persons who have perpetrated violence against members of the gay community.

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"Notwithstanding the offence was rarely successful in this context, its operation... is offensive and unacceptable."

The defence law has also been utilised in New Zealand, America, the Philippines, and the United Kingdom, where is is known by different names.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: News, Australia

Stewart Perrie
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