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New self-defence laws for SA

23 July 2020

The defence of provocation would be abolished under draft legislation tabled by the Marshall Liberal Government in State Parliament today. 

The provocation of defence allows the courts to downgrade a murder conviction to one of manslaughter in certain circumstances. 

Attorney-General, Vickie Chapman, said she had tabled the legislation in Parliament prior to the winter break so that relevant interest groups and stakeholders in the criminal justice sector could provide feedback on the laws prior to debate later in the year, following consultation with criminal law experts. 

"The fact is, the law as it stands is outdated, gender biased, difficult to understand and, in certain cases, downright offensive - most notable in the case of what's become commonly known as the 'gay panic' defence," Attorney-General Chapman said.

"However, it is also an incredibly complex area of law, and there are aspects where a similar defence is warranted in exceptional circumstances - such as a case where a victim of prolonged domestic violence retaliates against their abuser.

"This is why reform - while necessary - cannot be rushed.

"In this draft legislation, we have endeavoured to ensure measures are taken to ensure those extreme circumstances have been taken into account.

"But, given the nature of these laws, we want to ensure stakeholders have a chance to comment so that we can be confident there are no unintended consequences when this reform is implemented.

"I look forward to receiving feedback from stakeholders over the Parliamentary winter break and will have the ability to make any changes necessary to the current Bill when Parliament returns in September," Ms Chapman concluded.