Nevada moves towards banning ‘gay panic’ defense
The panic defense allows people to argue in court they acted in a ‘temporary insanity’ because of unwanted same-sex sexual advances
The Nevada State Senate on Wednesday (17 April) passed a bill which would ban the so-called ‘gay panic’ or ‘trans panic’ defense in the state.
Bill 97 ‘prohibits use in a criminal case of certain defenses based on the sexual orientation or gender identity or expression of the victim’.
It was passed by 19 for to 2 against. The bill will then move through assembly committee before the State Assembly votes on it.
The governor is then expected to sign the bill into law.
Panic defenses have come under fire in the US.
A defendant can use the defense in court. They claim to have acted in a state of ‘violent temporary insanity’ because of unwanted same-sex sexual advances.
It is still legal in at least 45 states. Rhode Island last year banned the practice.
LGBTI rights group, Human Rights Campaign, welcomed the news.
It called it a ‘vital measure to ensure victims of violent crimes and their families receive equal justice regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity’.
Gay panic defense
The controversial ‘gay panic’ defense first surfaced in the US in the 1960s. The defense partially or completely excuse crimes such as murder and assault.
Many countries around the world have barred using the defense along with the ‘trans panic defence’.
In 2013, the American Bar Association’s (ABA) House of Delegates voted to approve a resolution against the use of the defenses.
‘The ABA’s adoption of this measure sends a clear message to state legislatures that legal professionals find no validity in the sham defenses,’ said then executive director of the National LGBT Bar Association, D’Arcy Kemnitz.
‘Too many people have hidden for far too long behind baseless “panic” defenses.’
‘Judges, lawmakers and juries must demand that these practices come to an end and juries must be provided with instructions advising juries to make their decisions free of improper bias and prejudice.’
This story has been edited. It previously erroneously stated that the bill had become law.