Father Paul Kelly campaigned for the
Father Paul Kelly campaigned for the "gay panic” defence to be removed. Robyne Cuerel

Priest praised for campaign against 'gay panic' defence

FATHER Paul Kelly's long campaign to end the "gay panic" murder defence has been successful.

The Queensland Parliament on Tuesday night voted to remove "unwanted sexual advances" as a partial defence against a murder charge.

Before the change, a person accused of murder could claim they killed a person as a result of an "unwanted sexual advance". If a jury accepted this defence the accused would be found guilty of manslaughter rather than murder and avoid murder's mandatory life sentence.

Fr Kelly, a former Maryborough Catholic priest, led the campaign for the law to be changed after he found Wayne Robert Ruks's body in the St Mary's Catholic Church yard in 2008. Parliament heard the men who killed him used the "gay panic" defence and were convicted of manslaughter.

LNP Hervey Bay MP Ted Sorensen thanked Fr Kelly and said the changes gave meaning to Mr Ruks's death.

"He died for a reason - to get this law changed," he said.

Attorney-General Yvette D'Ath said although the previous law was written in gender neutral terms it had been interpreted under common law as a defence for unwanted male homosexual advances.

Ms D'Ath said the new law would ensure that all Queenslanders were equal before the law.

The law now says "unwanted sexual advance" is only a defence under "exceptional circumstances".

Shadow attorney-general Ian Walker said the LNP would not be opposing the bill but he proposed amendments to the bill to clarify what those exceptional circumstances could be.

He said he was concerned if a sexual abuse survivor received an aggressive unwanted sexual advance and they lost control and lashed out they could not use the law to prove a killing was not intended.

Mr D'Ath said the bill left what was "exceptional" as the government could not predict what future cases included and judges were in a better position to decide when the exemption applied.

"What circumstances are exceptional in each case simply cannot be predicted," she said.

The government voted against the LNP's amendments.

The bill will be reviewed in five years to ensure it is working as intended.

South Australia is now the only state that still has a gay panic defence.