Lawmakers Introduce Federal Bill to Ban ‘Gay and Trans Panic Defense’

“Gay and trans panic legal defenses reflect an irrational fear and bigotry toward the LGBTQ community and corrode the legitimacy of federal prosecutions,” one lawmaker said

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Boston Globe via Getty Images, File

Sen. Edward Markey and Rep. Joe Kennedy are pushing a bill that would end the use of so-called “gay panic” and “trans panic” defenses in federal court, NBC News reported.  

The legislation, titled Gay and Trans Panic Defense Prohibition Act of 2018, states that those defenses “seek to partially or completely excuse crimes such as murder and assault on the grounds that the sexual orientation or gender identity of the victim is provocation enough for the violent reaction of the defendant.”

The rare defense tactic has already been banned in California and Illinois but is still theoretically usable in federal court. Markey and Kennedy, two Democrats from Massachusetts, aim to change that with the legislation.

“Gay and trans panic legal defenses reflect an irrational fear and bigotry toward the LGBTQ community and corrode the legitimacy of federal prosecutions,” Markey said in a statement. “These defenses must be prohibited to ensure that all Americans are treated with dignity and humanity in our justice system.”

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