Queensland Opposition Leader Lawrence Springborg and Shadow Attorney General Ian Walker have announced this morning that the LNP will support, in principle, the removal of the ‘gay panic defence’ and the repealing of historical convictions of gay men in Queensland who were charged with engaging in consensual homosexual acts prior to the decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1990.
Mr Walker, flanked by the Opposition Leader made the announcement at a breakfast meeting of the Brisbane Gay and Lesbian Business Network at the Story Bridge Hotel. The move marks an important shift in policy from the stance taken by the LNP under the former leadership of Campbell Newman.
Addressing the GLBN breakfast, Mr Walker said that while there was still some of the legal detail to work out, the LNP believes that reform is appropriate and that he would be contacting the Attorney General to offer his party’s cooperation.
“Our party room has formed a view on two issues, namely the expunging of criminal records for homosexual activity during the time that it was illegal, and the abolition of the gay panic defence,” Mr Walker said.
“We know those issues are being looked at by the Government and our position as a party is that we agree in principle that those two matters should proceed and we would want to deal with the government on a bipartisan basis.”
Prior to the election, the Labor Party indicated that they also supported the principle of changes to the gay panic defence and historical convictions, however, given the tight nature of the current parliament, the support offered this morning from the LNP is vitally important in seeing legislation pass in a hung parliament.
When addressing the change in policy seen within the LNP, Mr Walker said there was wide range of views within the party room but overall the two measure seemed like “obviously fair and reasonable things to do,” and that they would now look forward to reviewing legislation put forward by the Government.
“People are a bit sick of the continuing controversy about things and, I think that if we can find areas where we can agree in principle, then I think the community will applaud both sides for trying to find common ground,” Mr Walker said.
The ‘gay panic defence’ means a murder charge may be reduced to manslaughter if the defendant establishes their victim was a homosexual who ‘came on’ to them, and the killing was in self-defence.
Currently Queensland and South Australia are the only Australian states where the gay panic defence has not been abolished.
The Gay and Lesbian Business Network regularly invites important guest speakers to address their members. Details of their upcoming events can be found at www.glbn.org.au