Mr PYNE (Cairns—Ind)(5.19 pm): Last week it was with great pride that I marched with the Tropical Mardi Gras float at the Cairns Festival Parade. I have many friends who are part of Cairns’ vibrant and active LGBTIQ community, of which I am very proud. It was great to celebrate with them.
It is with a heavy heart that I would like to express my personal sorrow for the way Queensland’s LGBTIQ community has been treated in the past, as well as for a number of injustices that continue today. We all know that being a gay man was a criminal offence in this state prior to 1989 and of the injustice and victimisation the
LGBTIQ community had been subjected to. While I may lack the stature of a prime minister, premier or even an opposition leader, as a humble MP I say to Queensland’s LGBTI community, ‘I am sorry!’
However, it is not just for past injustices that this parliament should feel sorry, because injustice and inequity continue. Three areas stand out in this regard. The first is criminal convictions for sodomy. It is ridiculous that in this day and age elderly gay men have convictions hanging over their heads from the time when Joh Bjelke-Petersen was premier.
Secondly, the gay panic defence continues in Queensland. A petition tabled this morning draws our attention to the discrimination faced by LGBTIQ people in Queensland through the use of the provocation defence, section 304 of the Criminal Code, colloquially known as the gay panic defence. That partial defence allows for a charge of murder to be downgraded to manslaughter if it is alleged that an unwanted homosexual advance was made by the deceased towards the defendant.
Such an interpretation of this law is completely archaic, has no place in our legal system and affects the way LGBTIQ people live their lives day to day, by curbing freedom of expression and association in the public sphere with the threat of violence. It is impossible to articulate just how offensive, dangerous and destructive it would be to allow this defence to remain unaddressed in our Criminal Code. I agree with these petitioners and likewise request the Attorney General to introduce legislation to remove the potential for provocation to be used in defence of an individual who has committed an act of murder by enshrining in legislation that an alleged unwanted homosexual advance cannot be used as an application of the provocation defence.
Thirdly, unequal age of consent laws in this state continue to discriminate against gay men. The government has said that it will standardise consent laws, but has not yet done so. I say to the government, draft the legislation and bring on the vote.
To end on a positive note, the Tropical Mardi Gras will take place in Cairns from 30 September, with many wonderful events planned. I look forward to participating and celebrating with Cairns’ LGBTIQ community and the wider community.