BY VICTORIA TRAVERS
An ambiguity in Queensland law in Australia allows individuals accused of murder to claim a defense known as “gay panic” to avoid prosecution.
Confused? Guffawing slightly because it’s so ridiculous you can’t believe that this is not an elaborate hoax? You are not alone. More infuriating is that the “gay panic” and “trans panic” defense is not an unusual excuse for some of the most horrific crimes in history.
“Gay Panic” is the subject of a recent change.org petition, which relates to a murder that took place two years ago in Queensland. A man was murdered in the grounds of a church and his attackers were acquitted of murder following a “gay panic” plea.
Also referred to as “homosexual panic” and “Kempf’s disease”, the term was first coined by psychiatrist Edward in 1920 to describe a brief psychosis suffered by targets of unwanted gay attention. Luckily and quite rightly, the defense often fails and has been ruled inadmissible in many juristictions because of a complete lack of scientific evidence. Of course there’s a lack of scientific evidence, it’s as ridiculous as dunking a woman in a river to see if she’s a witch.
In a closer look into the history of “gay panic” I was staggered to learn of some of the horrific crimes committed where this defense has lessened prison sentences. In 1995, Jonathan Schmitz was tried for the murdered of friend Scott Amedure, who admitted on “The Jenny Jones Show” that he had romantic feelings for Schmitz. A week after the admission, Schmitz bought a gun, went to Amedure’s home and shot him twice in the chest. Schmitz claimed diminished responsibility citing “gay panic”, claiming that the humiliation and anger provoked by Amedure’s confession drove him to kill. Schmitz was found guilty of second-degree murder. First degree murder is characterized by premeditation, despite taking a week to murder Amedure, Schmitz actions were found to be unplanned.
Then in 2004 “trans panic” was used in the ghastly murder of transgender teenager Gwen Araujo in California. Two of her attackers were convicted of second-degree murder, but not convicted on the requested hate-crime enhancements. The other two men pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter. Despite being regarded as a “mostly” irrelevant defense it needs to be made simply a prohibited defense.
So do something awesome today to help your fellow man and sign this petition to urge “Queensland parliament and LNP leader Campbell Newman to eliminate this law as a partial defense for murder, and forbid non-violent homosexual advance being treated as evidence in any murder trial.” So far the petition has 21,874 signatures, but they need 25,000. So get clicking HOLLArevolutionaries, let’s reject these archaic values that condone prejudice and violence against LGBTQ individuals.