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Queensland Has Finally Scrapped The "Gay Panic Defence"

"From today, saying a gay person made a pass at you will no longer be an acceptable, legal excuse for murder."

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The so-called "gay panic defence" has been scrapped in Queensland following a long public campaign spearheaded by a Catholic priest.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Queensland parliament passed a bill amending section 304 of the Criminal Code, which removes unwanted sexual advance as a partial defence for provocation of murder.

Previously under Queensland law people accused of murder could have their charges downgraded to manslaughter if they could prove their victim made a non-violent gay advance. This is no longer the case.

"Queensland's criminal code must not be seen to condone violence against the gay community, or indeed any community," attorney general Yvette D'Ath said in a statement.

South Australia is now the only Australian jurisdiction that still allows the partial defence.

The change comes after a lengthy campaign spearheaded by Catholic priest Paul Kelly, who was made aware of the defence when a man, Wayne Ruks, was bashed to death on the grounds of his church in Maryborough in 2008.

The defence was raised during the trial of his killers, Jason Pearce and Richard Meerdink. But Wayne Ruks was not gay, and the judge said he did not believe gay advances had been made.

Kelly collected almost 300,000 signatures calling for the law to be changed and presented the petition to parliament late last year.

"An innocent man named Wayne was killed in my parish churchyard eight years ago. The two men who killed him claimed Wayne made 'sexual advances' on them, and cited the gay panic defence in court to justify his murder," Kelly said in a statement.

"This injustice revolted me, and since then I've dedicated myself to a campaign to rid our legal system of this excuse for murder.

"From today, saying a gay person made a pass at you will no longer be an acceptable, legal excuse for murder."

Ruks' mother, Joyce Kujala, said in a statement she had waited eight years for this "dangerous, offensive excuse for murder" to be abolished.

"It can’t bring Wayne back but it’s some small justice and it could save a lot of lives in future," she said.

Lane Sainty is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney, Australia.

Contact Lane Sainty at lane.sainty@buzzfeed.com.

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