Since as early as the 1960s, defense lawyers have introduced the idea that people accused of murdering lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people had acted in a state of temporary insanity caused and justified by their victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
The legal strategy, known as the “gay panic” or “transgender panic” defenses, was not always effective, and as attitudes toward L.G.B.T. people shifted, it was used less often. But it has still been deployed in recent years by lawyers hoping to win a jury’s sympathy, lessen a defendant’s charges or shorten a sentence. On Wednesday, New York became the seventh State Legislature to approve a ban on such defenses.
The measure’s passage came amid a growing national push to bar the defenses, which gay and transgender rights activists say codify discriminatory attitudes into the legal system. Lawmakers in three other states approved similar bans this year.
Assemblyman Daniel J. O’Donnell and State Senator Brad Hoylman, both gay Democrats from Manhattan, had introduced bills last weekend that would stop people charged with murderfrom mounting gay panic or transgender panic defenses.
The legislation, which was approved during Pride Month and as New York prepared to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, was the culmination of an effort that started when Mr. Hoylman introduced a similar bill in 2014.
“I’m glad that New York is sending a message to prosecutors, to defense attorneys, juries and judges that a victim’s L.G.B.T.Q. identity can’t be weaponized,” Mr. Hoylman said in an interview. Read more via New York Times