An Australian Catholic priest has re-activated his signature campaign to eliminate the “gay panic” defense as a legal maneuver to decrease murder charges to manslaughter if the accused person says that he acted in response to a homosexual advance by the victim.
Father Paul Kelly of Maryborough, Queensland, is renewing his efforts to eliminate that provision in his Australian state because of change of government and policy there.
PinkNews.co.uk reports that a new political party, the Liberal National Party (LNP), is now in power in Queensland and the new Attorney General is not as favorable to the change as the previous Labour party official was:
“[Fr. Kelly] has relaunched his campaign following remarks by the new Queensland Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie that changes to the gay panic law were unnecessary, saying the previous administration had used it as a ‘political football.’ ”
According to Fr. Kelly, prior to the election, the current Premier said he thought a change to the law was “certainly worthy of sensible consideration and we will look at it.” Fr. Kelly attributes the reversal in policy to a change in the party’s position:
“Sadly, it appears that the more extreme elements of the LNP have hijacked the party’s position on reforming this archaic law. . . .
“An expert committee looked at the issue and recommended changes – which were accepted by the previous government – to remove doubts about the use of the gay panic defence.
“The Premier appears to be going against the wishes of the public, with more than 75 per cent of Queenslanders saying in a Courier-Mail poll that the gay panic defence should be struck out.”
Fr. Kelly is collecting signatures on the popular Change.org website for petitions. You can access the petition here. He commented on the success of the earlier petition campaign which attracted 26,000 signatures:
“The most uplifting aspect of my Change.org campaign was that it united disparate elements of the community – young and old, right and left, gay and straight – in speaking out against a discriminatory, offensive law.”
Fr. Kelly is aiming to collect 40,000 signatures and has said he is available to deliver them to the Premier personally. Change.org has noted that his previous campaign was the largest one ever in Queensland and one of the largest ever in Australia.
Bondings 2.0 reported earlier this year when Fr. Kelly initiated the campaign. You can read that posting here.
–Francis DeBernardo, New Ways Ministry