Protect LGBTIQ+ people from hate crimes

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The South Australian Parliament is about to consider legislation to repeal the outdated and demeaning so-called ‘gay panic’ murder defence. 

Laws that legitimise and excuse violent and lethal behaviour against any member of the LGBTIQ+ community have no place here. Attacking someone because who they are offends you should increase your punishment, not reduce it. 

Used in South Australia as recently as in 2015, the defence has allowed convictions for the murder of gay men to be reduced to manslaughter, simply if a heterosexual male killer says he was provoked by a gay man making a “pass” at him.

Our laws must condemn prejudice, not condone it. That is why South Australia must go further to protect victims of hate crime.

Courts should be required to consider whether hate or prejudice towards a person or group of persons was a motivating factor in a crime, and this should be reflected in the sentence. We call for prejudice-motivated conduct to be added as a sentencing factor, like it is in NSW, Victoria and the Northern Territory.

The Sentencing Act 2017 (SA) should be amended to include as a sentencing consideration:

whether the offence was motivated (wholly or partly) by hatred for or prejudice against a group of people to which the offender believed the victim belonged (such as people of a particular race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, or people having an intersex variation or a particular disability)

Together we can put an end to this defence that legitimises and excuses violent and lethal behaviour against members of the LGBTIQ+ community, and ensure laws protect all victims of hate crime.