Father Paul Kelly
Father Paul Kelly

Reverend Paul Kelly’s campaign to stop the gay panic defence has been given a boost thanks to a timely tweet by One Tree Hill star Sophia Bush

A loophole in Queensland law allows people accused of murder to defend themselves in court by claiming “gay panic” – that is, if someone who they think is gay “comes onto” them, the sheer panic they feel is partial justification for murder.

This law belongs in the dark ages — but it was enshrined in Queensland law in 1997, when a man responded to “gentle touching” by ramming his victim’s head against a wall until he was unrecognisable, then stabbed him to death.

The killer’s argument was this: “Yeah, I killed the guy, but what he did to me was worse.”

When a man was killed on the grounds of Reverend Paul Kelly’s church a couple of years later and one of the killers used the gay panic defence to be acquitted of murder, Kelly was utterly appalled and has since campaigned tirelessly to try to close the loophole in the law that allows LGBT people to be victims of hate crimes.

Reverend Kelly says that  “While almost all other state governments have abolished similar laws, and refuse to admit evidence of non-violent homosexual advances in murder trials, nothing has changed here. Queensland is now one of the last states upholding the idea that a person can be panicked enough by gay and lesbian people to justify murder. That’s why I am calling on the Queensland parliament and LNP leader Campbell Newman to eliminate this law as a partial defence for murder, and forbid non-violent homosexual advance being treated as evidence in any murder trial.” This situation cannot go on.”

Kelly’s campaign recently drew the attention of former One Tree Hill star Sophia Bush who was so appalled by the situation that she sent a twitter blast out to her 650,000 followers  Bush tweeted:

“#EqualityMatters‬  Tell Queensland to eliminate the ‘gay panic’ defence from law ‪#gaypanic‬ ‪#bullshit‬,” she wrote last week.

It led to thousands of international replies on Twitter.

Reverend Kelly is delighted by the response saying:

“The international attention on this archaic and discriminatory law is most welcome. Hopefully the Queensland government will wake up to the fact that there is no support for this law, apart from within fundamentalist sections of the LNP. Queenslanders don’t want it, Australians don’t want it, and now we can see the world doesn’t want it.”