Homophobic crime due to ‘gay panic’ may soon no longer be a viable defence in the US
An archaic law stating that it’s ok if you commit a crime against a homosexual because they came onto you and you panicked is slowly but surely being repealed in the United States.
Yes you read that right. The ‘gay panic’ defence is a legal strategy where the defendant claims they acted in a state of temporary insanity, reacting violently (including assault and even murder) against an unwanted same-sex sexual advance.
There is (or course) a ‘trans panic’ defence that is applied in cases where an assault or murder has occurred when the assailant has had sex with he victim not knowing they are trans.
Undoubtedly this dubious defence has been used to justify the murder of LGBT+ individuals and is somehow still a viable option in the US courts, but hopeful not for much longer.
Lawmakers in New Mexico have taken a step in the right direction with one saying “It is appalling that we would continue to allow the alleged perpetrator of violence to defend themselves by claiming they panicked because of the sexual orientation or gender identity of their victim – that we would say the sheer surprise revelation of our sexuality or gender would determine our worthiness to live.”
Hate crimes against LGBTQI+ people in the US are still alarmingly frequent and the existence of a defence the could justify such heinous acts only serves to empower those that wish to harm us.
The practise is already banned in 12 states and most recently, the Gay and Trans Panic Defense Prohibition Act of 2019 was introduced in the last Congress but it never moved past the committee stage. Hopefully with the White House and Congress now controlled by the Democrats they can finally consign this relic of a defence to the past where it belongs