The “Gay Panic Defense” Will be Banned in the State of Illinois

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Have you heard of the gay panic defense? There’s also something similar called the trans panic defense. If you’re still a little confused, don’t feel bad because I myself was unfamiliar with these terms as well.

We all have heard the heartbreaking stories of an LGBT person being the victim of a violent crime that leads to their death in many cases. On October 12, 1998, 21-year-old University of Wyoming student, Matthew Shepard, was victim of a violent crime as he was beaten and tortured.

Just a few years ago, Marco McMillian, an openly-gay mayoral candidate for the city of Clarksdale, Mississippi, was brutally murdered. From a legal standpoint, what these two instances have in common is that the individuals accused of being responsible used the “gay panic defense” in court.

According to lgbtbar.org,

“Gay and trans “panic” defense tactics ask a jury to find that a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity is to blame for the defendant’s excessively violent reaction.”

In other words, this method of defense is used to justify violence and assault because the defendant lost their sh*t or freaked out for a hot second. It is supposed to be viewed as impulsive and unusual behavior that wouldn’t generally reflect that individual.

In 2014, the state of California was the first to ban this defense method. On August 25, it was approved by the Governor of Illinois to ban this bill on January 1, 2018 which is this coming Monday.

It is also being reported that similar legislation is pending in New Jersey, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

Sources: https://lgbtbar.org/what-we-do/programs/gay-and-trans-panic-defense/

https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/12/28/574453009/illinois-to-ban-gay-panic-defense-in-new-year

http://ilga.gov/legislation/BillStatus.asp?DocNum=1761&GAID=14&DocTypeID=SB&LegId=104743&SessionID=91&GA=100

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