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Australian state of New South Wales moves to ban ‘gay panic’ defense

The New South Wales Upper House of Parliament has passed a bill that would stop murderers from seeking to have their charges downgraded by claiming their victim made a gay pass at them and it looks set to be passed by the Lower House as well
The Rev. Fred Nile MLC
Photo by Greg Tan/Christian Democratic Party

The New South Wales (NSW) Legislative Council has passed a bill restricting provocation defenses in murder trials but the bill’s champion will surprise you.

The bill was proposed by Christian Democrats leader the Rev. Fred Nile – one of Australia’s most prominent political campaigners against LGBTI rights - and will ensure that people will not be able to use their disgust of homosexuality to argue they had diminished responsibility in committing violent acts against LGBTI people.

The bill will also prevent perpetrators of religious or cultural ‘honor killings’ from claiming diminished responsibility due to their religious or cultural sensibilities being inflamed.

Nile has been a vocal campaigner against same-sex marriage and adoption rights for LGBTI people in Australia and for many years organized Christian protests against the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade in which he lead prayers for rain.

The bill was the result of an inquiry chaired by Nile into the use of provocation defenses in New South Wales after Sydney man Chamjot Singh was able to have a murder charge downgraded to manslaughter after he killed his Indian born wife in 2009 – arguing that cultural sensibilities and a belief his wife was cheating on him had meant he was not fully responsible for his own actions.

The NSW lower house was expected to vote on the bill today but it now appears the bill will not be voted on before the next sitting of parliament on 6 May.

However the bill has bipartisan support and the support of NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell so it seems unlikely that it would fail then.

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