New calls to amend legislation, and end the acceptance of both “gay panic” and “trans panic” defenses in cases of murder and assault have been put forward by LGBTI rights groups.
Despite numerous attempt to amend current legislation in the past, currently, only two US states California and Illinois, have successfully passed bills banning this type of defense.
As crazy as it sounds, “gay panic” defence enables an individual to claim that a violent crime that took place against another individual, only occurred due to the perpetrator being ‘freaked out’ or ‘scared’ by the victim’s gender identity or sexual orientation.
Unsurprisingly the American Bar Association (ABA) released a resolution in 2013, calling for all states to ban “gay panic” defenses in cases of murder and assault.
“The American Bar Association urges federal, tribal, state, local and territorial governments to take legislative action to curtail the availability and effectiveness of the ‘gay panic’ and ‘trans panic’ defenses, which seek to partially or completely excuse crimes such as murder and assault on the grounds that the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity is to blame for the defendant’s violent reaction,” ABA explained in a statement.
Arguing that “homosexual panic disorder” is no longer recognised as a legitimate affliction by the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, ABA believes that “gay panic” defences should also become il-legitimised.
D’Arcy Kemnitz, who is the Executive Director of the National LGBT Bar Association says that despite being something most people are unaware of, “Gay and trans panic defenses are used with much more frequency than most people think.”
In 2015 both Pennsylvania and New Jersey attempted to pass legislation to ban the use of the defense. Unfortunately, both bills were struck down and dismissed as a non-priority by the states’ committees.
Councilmember of Washington D.C David Grosso is currently attempting to limit the use of “gay panic” defence in his state and says, “I believe that everybody’s human rights should be protected. A person just being who they are causing them to be beaten up? That shouldn’t be used in any sense, in any way, as a defense.”
Last Updated on Jun 14, 2017