FLORIDA DEMOCRATS INTRODUCE BILLS TO BAN GAY, TRANSGENDER ‘PANIC DEFENSE’

Two Florida Democrats on Tuesday introduced bills that seek to ban the use of the co-called gay and transgender panic defense in criminal trials.

Criminal defendants who use the controversial defense claim that a violent act was triggered by the revelation of a victim’s actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith, who is openly gay, and Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book are sponsoring the bills (House Bill 205 and Senate Bill 374).

Smith, who represents Orlando, told Florida Politics that the legal strategy “shifts blame onto the victims of violent crimes rather than their perpetrators.”

“As a survivor of hate violence, I understand how gay or trans ‘panic defense’ can be used as a legal strategy to justify or excuse violence against the LGBTQ community,” said Smith. “It happened to me. The continued use of panic defense in legal proceedings perpetuates anti-LGBTQ bias and shifts blame onto the victims of violent crimes rather than their perpetrators, which is why Florida must follow the lead of several states who passed laws prohibiting its use in court.”

California was the first state to ban the defense in 2014. Fourteen states, including New York, Illinois and Nevada, have followed California’s lead.

SOURCE: ON TOP MAG

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