Bi-partisan support to get rid of gay panic defence

THE gay panic defence is one step closer to being abolished in Queensland after Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg and Shadow Attorney-General Ian Walker offered bi-partisan support to the State Government in removing the controversial legal defence.

A petition that has garnered more than 260,000 signatures was started by former Maryborough priest Father Paul Kelly after Wayne Ruks was killed in the churchyard of St Mary's Catholic Church in July, 2008.

Richard John Meerdink and Jason Andrew Pearce were jailed for the manslaughter of Mr Ruks, with Pearce telling police officers that Mr Ruks had grabbed his crotch while the two were sitting on a bench and that had sparked the attack.

Their murder charge was dropped to manslaughter after using the controversial defence.

Mr Kelly has been strident in his fight for the removal of the provocation or homosexual advance defence, saying "it needs to be abolished right away".

He hoped that now there was support from both sides of government for the removal of the gay panic defence law, it was a step closer to being abolished.

Mr Walker said he believed the reform was appropriate and he would offer his party's co-operation to Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath.

The LNP will also support the repealing of convictions of gay men in Queensland who were charged with engaging in consensual homosexual acts prior to the decriminalisation of homo- sexuality in 1990.

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