46 states still allow people accused of violent crimes to use gay or trans “panic” defenses in court —but more states are now banning the defense.
On May 14, Nevada became the fourth state to ban “gay” and “trans panic” defenses in court. “Panic” defenses are legal strategies that use a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity to justify the defendant’s actions, even in the case of homicide. The legal strategy dates back to the 1960s—since then, California, Illinois, Rhode Island, and now Nevada have banned it. Similar legislation has been introduced in other states and Washington, D.C.
Nevada’s bill was approved by a landslide in the state House and Senate and was enthusiastically signed by the governor, who stated on Twitter, “I was proud to sign into law a bill to ban the discriminatory and bigoted gay and trans “panic” defense tactic, which can be used to excuse violent hate crimes against LGBTQ+ individual. Amid a disturbing rise in hate crimes against the LGBTQ+ community around the world, Nevada is reaffirming out commitment to justice and equality for all individuals.”
LGBTQ+ people are the victims of hate crimes more often than any other minority group in the U.S., according to FBI data.