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Anti 'gay panic' bill 1st reading just days away

Fri 14 Aug 2009 In: New Zealand Daily News View at Wayback

The much anticipated Bill to have 'gay panic defence' struck from the nation's law books is believed likely to have its first reading in Parliament this coming week and all indications are that it will have a smooth ride through the house. More formally known as the Partial Defence of Provocation, the provision in criminal law gives a killer an opening to claim that he or she was sufficiently provoked by the victim that he lost control, as any ordinary person would in the circumstances. It has been used repeatedly for decades by killers to claim that an alleged sexual overture by a gay man was sufficient to partially justify a brutal and deadly assault. Most recently it was successful in the case of Ferdinand Ambach who, in a "monstrous rage," beat to death an elderly gay Onehunga man who Ambach claims had come on to him. Ambach will receive a lesser sentence later this month after his charge of manslaughter was downgraded by a jury to manslaughter. Minister of Justice Simon Power The anti-Partial Defence of Provocation bill was tabled in the house last week by justice minister Simon Power who said he wanted to give it a high priority. It had been preceded by a very similar private member's bill sponsored by opposition MP Lianne Dalziel with gay MP Charles Chauvel assisting in its drafting. A spokesperson for Power says the Government hopes to schedule the first of three readings in Parliament for this coming week. It could not be addressed last week as Parliament was in recess. Dalziel has withdrawn her bill, as "the government bill is virtually a word-for-word copy" of her own. With Government backing and Power stating that he wanted to move fast on the law change the new bill appears to have been given priority on the order paper which the government uses to schedule parliamentary business. Concerns that the bill might also include more controversial proposals such as introducing degrees of murder have not eventuated, increasing the likelihood that the bill will pass quickly and smoothly. "With the Government bill in play, there is now no question that the repeal will now have the overwhelming support of Parliament," says Dalziel. "I call that a win-win!"    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Friday, 14th August 2009 - 10:29pm

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