'Gay panic' defence should go: priest
CATHOLIC priest Paul Kelly has launched a petition to change the laws allowing allegations of a homosexual advance to be used as a defence for murder.
Fr Kelly said he launched the petition last week after writing to the Attorney-General's department asking for the so-called "gay panic" defence to be struck out of law.
"The Attorney-General wrote back and said they were looking at a few changes to it, but I felt it wasn't enough," Fr Kelly said.
"This loophole needs definitive closing - we've had the defence raised twice in as many years just in Maryborough, and I can't understand why it is allowed by the law."
The petition has gathered more than 375 signatures in a matter of days, and he will forward it to all members of the State Government and the LNP's Campbell Newman when 5000 people have signed it.
Fr Kelly became interested in the cause after the defence was used in the trial of two men who killed a man in the grounds of his church in 2008.
Wayne Robert Ruks was bashed to death by Richard Meerdink and Jason Pierce in 2008, and the men claimed in court that Mr Ruks had made an unwanted gay advance.
The topic came under the spotlight again last year in a murder trial following the death of Stephen Ward, a hitch-hiker who was killed in 2008.
Although the "homosexual advance" claim was not offered as a defence for accused killer John Patrick Peterson, the court heard the bashing was initiated because Peterson was provoked by a gay come-on made by the hitch-hiker.
Fr Kelly said even raising the defence in court could be prejudicial as it might tap into any intolerant or homophobic views held by jury members.
"It needs to be completely wiped from the law books and not tolerated in our system of justice in which the rule of law is supposed to assume a paramount position," he said.
"Nobody should be bashed or killed because they don't share someone else's views."
He said his colleagues in the church had been supportive.