California Governor Jerry Brown bans use of gay and trans “panic” defenses in court. (x)
California has become the first U.S. state to officially ban the use of “gay panic” and “trans panic” defenses in court. Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill into law after it was passed last month with a vote of 50-10.
“Gay panic” and “trans panic” defenses are often used by defendants in murder cases. They argue their way to the lesser charge of manslaughter by saying the murder occurred during the “heat of passion” or a “sudden quarrel.” The defendants claim that they were so shocked to learn their victim was gay or trans that violence was their only recourse.
Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla authored the bill banning “panic” defenses in California. “There is absolutely no justification for the use of ‘panic defenses,'” she said last month in a statement. “Clearly this tactic has been utilized by defendants, unjustly targeting members of the LGBT community, based on damaging stereotypes. With AB 2501, we are moving forward to ensure equality in our courts and making it very clear that discrimination against the LGBT community is intolerable and unacceptable.”
Gov. Brown also signed other landmark bills into law, including the “Respect After Death Act,” which allows transgender people to receive accurate death certificates, and the “Yes Means Yes” affirmative consent law.