A New Jersey legislator has introduced a bill that will prevent culprits from using a ‘gay-panic’ defense.
Assemblyman Tim Eustace, an out politician, presented the proposal last week.
‘I want to make sure that we’re paying attention to things before they happen,’ Eustace said, as reported by New Jersey.com.
According to state law, a charge of murder can be reduced to manslaughter if the crime ‘is committed in the heat of passion resulting from a reasonable provocation.’
Eustace’s bill states provocation is not reasonable if based on the ‘discovery of, knowledge about, or potential disclosure of the homicide victim’s actual or perceived gender identity or expression.’
Included in this are ‘unwanted, non-forcible romantic or sexual advance[s].’
In late September, California become the first US state to ban such legal maneuvers.
Lambda Legal, a national LGBT organization, notes while the term ‘gay panic’ is not an official defense, it does ‘allow a defendant to enlist the judge and the jury’s support (or, at least, empathy) for the defendant’s anti-gay or anti-trans bias, by asking the justice system to excuse the killing as an “understandable” response to finding out that the victim was LGBT.’
There is no history of such a case being argued in a New Jersey court.
‘It is a recognized defense and it does have precedence,’ Eustace said to New Jersey.com.