A contentious law that could help gay bashers charged with murder to use provocation as a defence may soon be scrapped in New South Wales.
A parliamentary committee will consider scrapping the 102-year-old Provocation Defence, after a controversial case recently in which a man who slit his wife’s throat got a manslaughter charge instead of murder as he told the court that she’d ‘provoked’ him with her behaviour.
The same defence can and has been used to justify killings of gay men when they’ve made sexual advances on other men, resulting in a violent lashout from the pursued man.
Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby Co-Convenor Justin Koonin says the homosexual advance defence legitimates homophobia in the community by suggesting that same sex advances are by implication provocative to ordinary people.
Shadow Attorney-General Paul Lynch told News.com.au: “There have been many criticisms of the provocation defence to a murder charge and this parliamentary inquiry will consider whether the defence should be abolished.”
“Labor will ask the inquiry to consider whether the provocation defence should be abolished or alternatively, if the Crimes Act should be amended to ensure that behaviour regarded as provocative is gross enough to … constitute a partial defence to murder.”
There are calls for the provocation defence to be abolished or at least amended in Queensland too, as it has been in Victoria and Tasmania. Meanwhile, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory have specifically excluded non-violent sexual advances from their provocation defence law.