Stigma, homosexuality and the homosexual advance defence

Anthony Gray*, Kerstin Braun

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review


This article considers developments in the law regarding homosexuality through the prism of stigma, which retains an important role in psychology theory. It explores the role of law in perpetuating, or tackling, stigma. While the decriminalisation of homosexual practice between consenting adults has been important in reducing the stigma attached to homosexual activity, it is evident that stigma, and its associated serious psychological effects, persists in relation to sexuality. The recent High Court of Australia decision permitting a "homosexual advance defence" to be used by an offender accused of murdering the person making the unwanted advance is argued to reflect and perpetuate the continued stigmatisation of homosexual practice. There is reason to doubt whether the High Court would view an unwanted heterosexual advance in the same way as it apparently views an unwanted homosexual advance. The law must be careful in apparently excusing, or partly excusing, extremely violent (sometimes deadly) behaviour, and the message it sends when it does so.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)935-958
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Law and Medicine
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


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