LGBT group AllOurRights has begun a campaign to repeal the "homosexual panic" defence in the Crimes Act. Section 169 of the Crimes Act allows a murder charge to be reduced to manslaughter if the victim "provoked" the killer. This clause has a long and dirty history of being used to excuse hate crimes against gays, from the murder of Charles Aberhart by a gang of youths in Christchurch in 1964 to the more recent killings of David McNee and Colin Hart. The net effect is to deny gays the full protection of the law, and to effectively licence their murder.
But its not just about gays: the most common users of s169 are misognyists. A 2001 report from the Law Commission into Criminal Defences with Particular Reference to Battered Defendants [PDF] noted that
While victims of domestic violence may find the defence of provocation beyond their reach, perpetrators of domestic violence have successfully called on it for protection... [S]ection 169 has been used to reduce the culpability of men who have killed their wives because they reported a severe beating to the police after promising under threat not to do so, or were found in a compromising situation with another man, or had taunted the husband with sexual or other inadequacies.
This led the Law Commission to recommend that the defence be repealed, and instead replaced with sentencing discretion for murder.
So, its not just a "homosexual panic" defence; it's also a defence of "the bitch was asking for it". That we permit such "defences" in 21st century New Zealand is simply shameful. This law has to go.
If you'd like to see it repealed, then you can email Mark Burton, the Minister of Justice, here.