Finally, Some Federal Legislation To Stop Bogus “Gay Panic” Excuse

If discovering that a person is gay or trans sends you into a sudden violent rage, you’re the one with issues. While there’s no defense for attacking someone simply for being part of the LGBTQ community, embarrassingly, some people try to use it as a justification anyway.

That tactic is known as the “gay [or trans] panic” defense. Lawyers will sometimes try to convince the court that the defendant was so enraged and afraid immediately after learning about the victim’s identity that he couldn’t help but respond violently.

It’s pathetic, but about half of U.S. states have had cases that utilize the gay panic defense, to varying success. To address this problem, Senator Edward Markey and Representative Joe Kennedy, both Democrats from Massachusetts, have introduced a bill called the Gay and Trans Panic Defense Prohibition Act of 2018.

Sign the Petition: Urge Congress to support legislation to end gay panic defense 

“Murdering or assaulting anyone because of their sexual orientation or gender identity is not a defense, it is a hate crime,” said Rep. Kennedy, explaining the situation plainly. Killers/assaulters should be tried for hate crimes, not provided some loophole to alleviate their sentences based on homophobia.

So far, 15 other members of Congress have signed on as cosponsors to the legislation, including Sen. Tammy Baldwin, the sole openly gay member of the Senate. If passed, the bill would prevent defendants from trying the gay panic defense in federal court cases.

Back in 2013, the American Bar Association unanimously called on lawmakers to adopt legislation to prevent this disgusting defense from being allowed, but things have moved slowly.

To this point, just three states have outright banned this hate-fueled defense. California became the first to do so in 2014. Then Illinois and Rhode Island followed suit this year. Currently, there’s movement in the Pennsylvania legislature to pass a similar bill.

The most famous example of the gay panic defense happened in the trial for the murder of Matthew Shepard. The killers alleged that they freaked out when Shepard made a pass at them. Fortunately, the jurors sentenced them to life in jail anyway.

Nevertheless, criminals continue to try it as an excuse to this day. In May, a Texas man who stabbed his LGBT neighbor to death got a considerably light sentence after using the gay panic defense. The same month, an already convicted killer in Ohio tried to use a belated gay panic defense to get granted parole after spending three decades in prison.

Take Action

Let’s put a stop to this homophobic excuse for violence against LGBT. Sign this new Care2 petition addressed to members of Congress to pass this necessary legislation once and for all.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

48 comments

Marie W
Marie W2 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Thomas M
Past Member 6 months ago

thank you

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Caitlin L
Past Member 8 months ago

Thank you for posting

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Emma L
Past Member 8 months ago

thanks

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Tania N
Tania N8 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Tania N
Tania N8 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

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Catrin Schuetz-Kroehler

Violence is never the answer and gay panic, what a bogus excuse.

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Cindy S
Past Member 8 months ago

omg finally is right!

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Leo C
Leo C8 months ago

Thank you for posting!

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Lesa D
Past Member 8 months ago

#18503 petition signed...

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