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‘Gay panic’ criminal defense strategies should be curtailed by legislation, ABA House resolves

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ABA Journal
|
August 13, 2013
Issues: 

The ABA House of Delegates has unanimously passed a resolution urging federal, state, local and territorial governments to pass legislation curtailing the availability and effectiveness of the use of “gay panic” and “trans panic” defenses by criminal defendants. These defense strategies seek to excuse the crimes by saying that the victim’s sexual orientation caused their assailant’s violent reaction to them. The ABA recommends that courts, when asked, instruct juries to ignore the victim’s gender or sexual orientation in its deliberations; it also recommends that laws might ban any use of such defenses in noncapital cases.

D’Arcy Kemnitz, executive director of the National LGBT Bar Association was granted floor privilege to speak on the issue before the vote.

Kemnitz detailed several brutal assaults and murders of young people whose assailants used gay-panic defenses to claim their acts were reasonable.