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

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) signed legislation Wednesday that bans the usage of this so-called”homosexual panic” defense in courts of law.
“With this law, Republicans, Democrats and Progressives equally send a message into Vermonters-that your individuality should not be an excuse for somebody to cause you injury,” the two-term Republican stated in an article on registering the historic laws. “What this bill does is ensure a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity can’t be used to defend or justify a criminal act, or lower a sentence.”
The defense would be a valid strategy used by a suspect on trial for a violent crime where they typically attempt to supplement a temporary insanity defense by arguing that an undesirable advance from a homosexual person led them into such a condition of rage that they admittedly committed a violent crime, up to and including murder.
A company strategy known as the”trans panic” defense is occasionally used by defendants who have intercourse or hook up using a transgender girl, attack or murder them, then claim they had been unaware of their sufferer’s transgender status.
Researchers have noticed that these strategies have almost exclusively been used by men in the United States for years, its usage studied and tracked by a single researcher from data since 1970, a year after the Stonewall uprising heralded the contemporary LGBTQ rights movement.
Shortly before that era, 1 sexuality researcher wrote in 1967:”Not rarely, so-called homosexuals are killed with impunity in some European nations and in the United States most notably, as recently as the past few decades ago’
In the last several decades, however, some countries have moved to eliminate the defense completely.
Beginning in 2006, California amended its penal code in a small way that tried to deal with the homosexual panic defense tangentially, by adding jury instructions that bias, sympathy, bias or public opinion could not affect jurors’ decisions. A secondary directive was issued to district attorneys which taught them to use the jury instructions with reference to some criminal defendants’ anxiety defense.
In 2014, California became the first state to prohibit the gay and trans terror protections as a matter of law.
Vermont’s attempts, by H.128, make the Green Mountain State the 14th country to enact such a ban.
The bill has been passed all-but unanimously. Just Republican Rep. Rodney Graham of Williamstown voted against this measure.
The law had been co-sponsored by Rep. Mari Cordes, a Democrat who represents Lincoln, and Rep. Taylor Small, a Democrat who represents Winooski and will be the sole real open transgender member in the Vermont House of Representatives.
Similar legislation has been or is being considered in several additional countries, but Scott has been praised for being a Republican registering the law when other state politicians in his celebration increasingly have passed numerous anti-transgender laws.
“While that effort is a step in the right path, we know there is still additional work to perform to make sure all Vermonters, regardless of individuality, feel safe and secure in this state,” the governor added in his speech devoting the bill sponsors.
“Trans visibility issues.”
[image via DON EMMERT/AFP through Getty Images]
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