Comedian Tom Ballard has joined forces with a Catholic Bishop coinciding with the International Day Against Homophobia today (Tuesday 17 May) to add pressure on decision makers to end the ‘gay panic defence’ urgently, before another killer walks free.
Tom Ballard is urging people to back Father Paul Kelly’s campaign to end the gay panic defence by signing his 243,000-strong petition: www.change.org/gaypanic
The ‘gay panic’ defence means that a man can get away with murder if he says another man came onto him. It still exists in QLD and SA, where it was used just last month to grant the killer of Andrew Negre a re-trial. The last state to repeal it was NSW in 2014.
In an impassioned video, Tom Ballard said: “We all flirt all the time. If any straight men were to be so offended by my advances that they proceeded to stab me multiple times and then dump my body in a wheelie bin, I’d like to think the justice system would prosecute them to the full extent of the law. That’s why you should all support Father Kelly’s Change.org petition.”
Wayne Ruks was murdered in Father Paul Kelly’s courtyard six years ago. The gay panic defence was used in court, and his killers were given manslaughter sentences. One of his killers walked free after serving just 4 years of a 9 year sentence, the other is up for parole in the next few months.
Father Paul Kelly said: “Australia is an international disgrace for still having this homophobic law on its books. It’s allowing killers to walk free after serving paltry sentences. And it’s a demeaning, dangerous insult to gay people. QLD has claimed to be working on it, but the leisurely pace concerns me. There’s silence from South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill. I refuse to accept that. Every day, every hour that passes, another killer could walk free because of this outdated law. I will fight with every breath in my body for justice and I will not let down the 243,000 signers of my Change.org petition.”
Earlier this month, the QLD Attorney General said her government was reviewing the proposed amendments to the gay panic law – but the same noises were made just over a year ago, and no action has been taken since.