New Jersey became the ninth state to ban a homophobic and transphobic legal defense that allows killers to claim that “panic” brought on by a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity is grounds for acquittal, according to report Wednesday.
Known as the “gay panic defense,” the legal strategy allows homicide defendants to claim that they acted in a violent state of temporary insanity because of unwanted sexual advances made by a same-sex or transgender person.
Gov. Phil Murphy on Tuesday signed a bill to ban the defense, saying it promotes “full equality for all our residents,” according to NBC New York.
“Gay and trans panic defenses are rooted in homophobia and abhorrent excuses that should never be used to justify violence against vulnerable populations,” Murphy said.
The victim-blaming legal strategy — which has been used by dozens of killers — makes the case that a gay and transgender victim brought the attacks on themselves because of their orientation, supporters of the bill have said.
Lawyers for defendants generally argue that a proposition from a gay man or a transgender woman triggered a breakdown that caused the killing.
The strategy goes back to a 1954 Florida case in which a defendant successfully argued that a gay man’s advances justified shooting him, according to the American Bar Association.
The defense has been prohibited in eight states, and was last year banned in New York. At least five more states have proposed similar legislation.