Lawmakers have passed legislation that removes a controversial “gay panic” defense from the criminal code in an Australian state.
The code previously enabled the measure to be used as a partial defense to murder if an unwanted sexual advance had been made toward the accused in Queensland.
It was most famously used in 2008 when 45-year-old Wayne Ruks was killed by two men, Jason Pearce and Richard Meerdink, who claimed Ruks made advances at one of them.
Murder charges were reduced to manslaughter as a result, despite Ruks’ family disputing any notion that he was gay at the time.
Queensland Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Yvette D’Ath said removing the defense had addressed an unacceptable inequality.
“Queensland’s criminal code must not be seen to condone violence against the gay community, or indeed any community,” D’Ath said in a statement released Tuesday.
“The passing of this legislation sends an important message that discrimination is not acceptable and that we value the LBGTI community.”
Ruks was found dead in the churchyard of Father Paul Kelly, a Catholic priest who subsequently led a campaign to have the law changed.
“After five years of relentlessly campaigning for the gay panic defense for murder to be scrapped from the legal books in Queensland, I can today breathe a sigh of relief and accomplishment,” Kelly said.
Kelly started a Change.org petition that racked up 290,000 signatures and told the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper in 2011 that the law was a “homophobic, demeaning, dangerous insult” to gay people. He added that it “allows killers to walk away with paltry sentences”
Wayne Ruks’ mother, Joyce Kujala, said she had waited a long time for the change in the law.
“It can’t bring Wayne back, but it’s some small justice, and it could save a lot of lives in future,” Kujala said.
Florida governor says parents can send asymptomatic kids exposed to COVID-19 back to school
Some ridings still too close to call with mail-in ballots still being counted
Sask. man faces child pornography, sexual assault charges in connection to daycare
Canada paused COVID-19 vaccine deliveries as supply far exceeds demand
Tom Ford’s fashion designer husband Richard Buckley dies at 72
Entertainment1 week ago
George Wein, Newport Jazz Festival co-founder, dies at 95
Europe4 days ago
Volcano erupts on Spain’s Atlantic island of La Palma; lava theatens homes
Canada1 week ago
Ontario releases new details on how people will prove their COVID-19 vaccine status starting Sept. 22
Other7 days ago
Ozone hole over Antarctica larger than usual, scientists say
Health1 week ago
U.K. recommends COVID-19 booster shots for over 50s
Other1 week ago
Amazon brings palm-swiping tech to Red Rocks concert venue
U.S6 days ago
Florida surpasses 50K COVID deaths after battling Delta wave
U.S7 days ago
Biden’s ‘summer of love’ with Europe hits an abrupt break-up