Gay & Trans Panic Legal Defenses
Eliminating the Use and Effectiveness of the Gay and Trans “Panic” Legal Defenses
The “gay panic” and “trans panic” legal defenses are surprisingly long-lived historical artifacts, remnants of a time when widespread public antipathy was the norm for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (‘LGBT’) individuals.
These defenses ask the jury to find that the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity, with all of the prurient character traits that such an identity is assumed to entail, is to blame for the defendant’s violent reaction. They characterize sexual orientation and gender identity as objectively reasonable excuses for loss of self-control, and thereby mitigate a perpetrator’s culpability for the murder of LGBT individuals.
By allowing lessened sentences for killers of LGBT victims, they enshrine in the law the notion that LGBT lives are worth less than other lives.
The ABA’s House of Delegates has accepted the LGBT Bar’s resolution to curtail the ability and effectiveness of the gay and trans “panic” legal defenses.