Success: ‘Gay Panic’ Defense Abolished

Target: Annastacia Palaszczuk, Premier of Queensland

Goal: Praise the removal of so-called “gay panic” as a lawful defense in murder cases from Queensland state legislation.

It’s been a long road, but we’ve finally made it. For years, LGBTQ rights advocates have been demanding the Australian state of Queensland ditch a controversial legal defense colloquially called “gay panic.” Referred to in legal circles as the Homosexual Advance Defense, this archaic feature of Queensland state law has long allowed those accused of murder to defend themselves by arguing they were victims of undue sexual advances. According to LGBTQ Nation, under the Homosexual Advance Defense “a defendant can claim temporary insanity as a result of a homosexual advance.”

Enshrined in state law, this defense was famously used in the 2008 killing of Wayne Robert Ruks.

Ruks was beaten to death by Jason Pearce and Richard Meerdink. According to news reports, Ruks was tackled to the ground, then repeatedly punched and kicked. He died shortly later of internal bleeding. Pearce and Meerdink later defended themselves in court by arguing Ruks had made undue sexual advances towards them, and cited Queensland’s gay panic laws.

The pair were eventually found guilty of manslaughter, after using the gay panic defense to downgrade their charges from murder.

The case brought renewed attention to the gay panic defense. Since then, many Queenslanders have argued the defense was little more than an outdated, inhumane relic of the past, and had no place in modern Australia.

At long last, Queensland’s state parliament has come to agree. Queensland lawmakers have officially amended the state’s criminal law code, removing gay panic as a legitimate defense in murder cases.

This victory wouldn’t have been possible without the massive tide of public anger, including petitions such as this one on ForceChange.

The battle for equality is still far from over, but let’s take a moment to welcome this long awaited victory. Please sign this petition praising the amendment, and urging for greater equality nationwide.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Premier Palaszczuk,

After so many years, Queensland lawmakers have finally amended state law to remove so-called “gay panic” as a defense in murder cases. This long outdated defense was famously used by Jason Pearce and Richard Meerdink to get their killing of Wayne Robert Ruks in 2008 downgraded from murder to manslaughter. It’s worth remembering Meerdink and Pearce were accused of brutally beating Ruks to death, simply because they felt he had made undue sexual advances towards them.

For years now, LGBTQ rights advocates have argued this case highlighted the homophobia officially enshrined in Queensland state law. We’ve argued no Queenslander has the right to beat someone to death simply because they felt like they were the victim of a sexual advance by someone of the same gender. The gay panic defense belongs to an earlier time in our nation’s history, and has no place in a modern, inclusive society.

Finally, Queensland lawmakers have come to agree, and have amended state law to remove gay panic as a recognized legal defense. This is an incredible – yet long overdue – victory for every Queenslander who believes in equality for all. We therefore welcome the actions of you and fellow representatives of the people of Queensland in taking this step forward.

However, there is always more to be done. Australia remains a country with a long history of homophobia, and the road to full equality remains a long one. We urge you and your colleagues to join us in the battle for an equal Australia, where nobody is discriminated against based on their sexual orientation.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Ludovic Bertron

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One Comment

  1. Gen Lovyet Agustsson says:

    you know theres nothing to be afraid of gays.

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