Legal News

Vermont’s GOP Governor Signs Bipartisan Legislation to Ban Gay and Trans ‘Panic’ Defense

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) signed legislation on Wednesday that bans the use of the so-called”homosexual panic” defense in courts of law.
“With this legislation, Republicans, Democrats and Progressives alike send a message into Vermonters-that your individuality should never be a justification for someone to cause you injury,” that the two-term Republican said in an article upon signing the historic laws. “What this bill does is make sure that a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity can not be used to defend or justify a criminal action, or lower a sentence”
The shield is a legal strategy used by a defendant on trial for a violent crime where they typically seek to supplement a temporary insanity defense by arguing that an undesirable improvement from a homosexual person led them into such a state of rage that they self committed a violent crime, up to and including murder.
A companion strategy known as the”trans panic” defense is sometimes employed by defendants that have intercourse or hook up using a transgender woman, murder or attack them, and then claim that they were unaware of their victim’s transgender status.
Researchers have noticed that these plans have almost exclusively been applied by men in the USA for decades, its use studied and monitored by a single researcher from data since 1970, a year after the Stonewall uprising heralded the modern LGBTQ rights motion.
Shortly before that era, one novelty researcher published in 1967:”Not rarely, so-called homosexuals are murdered with impunity in certain European countries and in the United States most notably, as lately as the last few years.’
In the past several decades, however, some states have moved to get rid of the defense altogether.
Beginning in 2006, California amended its penal code in a small way that tried to take care of the homosexual panic defense tangentially, by including jury instructions that bias, sympathy, bias or public opinion couldn’t affect jurors’ decisions. A secondary directive was issued to district attorneys which taught them to use the jury instructions with regard to a criminal defendants’ fear defense.
In 2014, California became the first country to ban the gay and trans terror defenses as a matter of law.
Vermont’s attempts, by way of H.128, make the Green Mountain State that the 14th country to enact such a ban.
The bill was passed all-but unanimously. Just Republican Rep. Rodney Graham of Williamstown voted against the step.
The laws had been co-sponsored by Rep. Mari Cordes, a Democrat who represents Lincoln, along with Rep. Taylor Small, a Democrat who represents Winooski and is the sole open transgender member in the Vermont House of Representatives.
Similar legislation was or is being contemplated in numerous additional states, but Scott was commended for being Republican signing the law when additional state politicians in his party progressively have passed many anti-transgender laws.
“While this effort is a step in the right direction, we know there’s still much more work to do to ensure all Vermonters, regardless of individuality, feel safe and secure in this country,” the governor added in his speech devoting the bill sponsors.
“So encouraging to hear him as an Republican [governor] name and observe #VT’s first publicly trans legislator,” tweeted Vermont State Sen. Kesha Ram, a Democrat who represents Chittenden County. “Trans visibility matters.”
[image via DON EMMERT/AFP via Getty Images]
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