The Australian Christian Lobby has urged a Queensland parliamentary committee not to abolish the partial defence of provocation as the law is not discriminatory and its removal would have negative consequences, particularly for women.

Addressing the Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee today in Brisbane, ACL Queensland director and spokesperson for women, Wendy Francis, said the changes went well beyond the notion of protecting members of the LGBT community.

“The ACL strongly agree that the use of violence against anyone because of their sexuality is inexcusable. Any suggestion that such a crime should be punished less severely is reprehensible and unthinkable,” Ms Francis said.

“However, the changes proposed will remove current provisions in the law that treats all people equally.

“A number of women’s organisations are opposed to the proposed changes because they will potentially compromise the defence of provocation for women,” Ms Francis said. 

“Changing the law means women who respond violently to sexual advances would no longer be able to claim provocation as a partial defence.

“What this bill will achieve is to preclude actions which would constitute sexual assault from ‘provocation’.”

Ms Francis said the partial defence of provocation was necessary to provide courts with the flexibility to respond appropriately to the complex matrix of factual evidence presented in each case.

“Providing flexibility in the law, without discrimination, is particularly important in Queensland, which is the only jurisdiction in Australia to impose mandatory life sentencing for murder,” she said.

“It enables a partial defence to murder in those cases where circumstances rule out an appeal to the complete defence of ‘self defence’ but where the court may feel that the circumstances of the case nevertheless offer some mitigation to a finding of murder.

“Since mandatory sentencing already significantly restricts judicial discretion in dealing with homicide cases in Queensland, further limitations to the partial defence of provocation are problematic in a way that is not comparable to the situation of other states.”