the gay panic defence

David Marr’s book The High Price of Heaven narrates the trial of a young man, Malcolm Green, who was befriended by a country bloke, Don Gillies, a real estate agent who was gay.

As an addicted reader of detective fiction I fail to understand how judges can dismiss the evidence of a perpetrator telling a friend a few days before his “unpremeditated crime” that he was thinking of knocking someone off. No tricoteuse, as am I, could overlook the evidence of a person’s state of mind; especially when subsequently, the High Court of Australia spent a year deliberating on the validity of a young hetero male being so revolted by a “violent” seduction that he had to resort to murder to remove the threat to himself.

David Marr, aided by the contemporary reactions of one of the judges on the bench, Michael Kirby, himself gay, points out the uncomprehending reactions by catholic hetero individuals to gay behaviour. The sexual assault of Green by Gillies consisted of a gentle touch of Green’s groin; fellow judge remarked: “That is a sexual assault”; Kirby corrected him: “Not technically”.

Marr describes the repugnance and bigotry in the catholic church’s reaction to homosexuality. This is compared to Roman civilisation where gay and hetero behaviours were interchangeable; gay scholar John Boswell mentions “the absolute indifference of most Latin authors to the question of gender”.

Despite Kirby’s and Gummow’s objections, the High Court spent a year defining the concept of “gay panic defense” whereby any number of psychotic and habitually violent individuals, including members of the police force, could excuse their behaviour in the public eye, largely against individuals who made no use of forceful physical actions in the expression of their lust.

David Marr’s characterisation of the catholic imprimatur on homophobia is well detailed; as Abbott’s government takes its place in parliament and any number of obstacles are placed in the way of civil union equality being granted to gays and lesbians, David Marr will have, in this book, outlined why. That and Abbott’s buddy relationship with Cardinal Pell.

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About anton veenstra

tapestry weaver, fibre artist, gay/qr activist, multiculturalist
This entry was posted in gay panic defense, Judge Michael Kirby and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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