New York Permanently Bans The ‘Gay Panic' Defense From Being Used In Court

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The “gay panic” defense contends that defendants accused of murdering LGBTQ victims acted in a state of insanity.

New York’s Legislature banned on Wednesday a 1960s criminal defense contending that defendants accused of murdering LGBTQ individuals acted in a state of insanity induced by their victims' sexual orientation, according to the New York Times.

The “gay panic” and “transgender panic” defenses have been recently deployed by lawyers hoping to reduce their clients’ sentences. These legal arguments, however, had lost credibility as attitudes towards gay and transgender individuals began shifting across the country.

New York became the seventh state to ratify a similar measure, amid a national movement to eliminate discriminatory attitudes codified in laws. Lawmakers in three other states have banned the measure in the last six months.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said he would sign the bill, and added that the measure “an important win for L.G.B.T.Q. people everywhere.”

The bill was introduced last week by Democrats Daniel J. O’Donnell and State Senator Brad Hoylman, both of whom are openly gay. “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,” said Hoylman.

The panic defenses were based on psychologists’ claims that same-sex attraction and transgender identification were mental illnesses. These theories, however, were discredited by the medical community in the 1970s, according to the Times.

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