JUSTICE SERVED

American Bar Association Considers Banning Gay Panic Defense

A standard ploy for sleazy defense attorneys with clients who bash gays is to claim the victim triggered the attack by making  a pass at the murderer (or perhaps just a simple assaulter). But the days of the gay panic defense may be numbered. The American Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Section is taking up a proposal that would no longer allow defense attorneys to use victims’ sexual orientation or identity against them in court. 

The gay panic defense has been used in many gay-bashing cases, including such high-profile ones as the Matthew Shepard murder. In essence, the defense argues that the defendant had the right to flip out and beat someone to a bloody pulp because he was afraid that the victim was coming onto him. (If this was a legitimate reason for killing someone, thousands of heterosexual men would be meeting their demise at the hands of women they hit on.)

“This resolution puts an end to a longstanding injustice in our legal system and gives a voice to countless lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender victims of violence, one we never hear because they are no longer here to speak for themselves,” said D’Arcy Kemnitz, executive director of the National LGBT Bar Association. The proposal goes before the full ABA house of delegates for a vote in August.

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15 Comments

  • Ridpathos

    How this defense lasted so long is a mystery to me.

  • Caleb in SC

    I’m sure this resolution will pass; however, it is really not up to the ABA. Whether such a defense will continue to exist is a matter of the individual states’ laws. The ABA has passed many resolutions that are never adopted by the states.

  • LaTeesha

    Given how many gays are being bashed & killed in NY perhaps it’s time for the str8 panic defense to be used by a gay person who kills a str8 person. Just say you feared for your life because str8 peeps are evil & have a history of hurting & killing gay peeps. Turnabout is fair play.

  • hyhybt

    @Caleb in SC: Why would it depend on state law? Don’t lawyers have to abide by the rules of bar associations if they want to keep their licenses? That wouldn’t necessarily stop the defense from being used, but it would make it awfully rare anyone would be willing to try it.

  • Caleb in SC

    @hyhybt: I understand your confusion. Despite its name, the ABA doesn’t actually license any lawyers at all. Instead, your licensure is dependent on the state or states in which you practice law. The same with the American Medical Association (AMA). The AMA doesn’t actually license any physicians, who are individually licensed in their respective states. For example, I am licensed in SC, but being a member of the ABA is not a prerequisite for practicing law in any state. Another example of the lack of any binding authority of the ABA, in 2000, the ABA proposed sweeping changes to the Rules of Professional Conduct. When SC established its commission to review these changes, SC did not adopt them all and modified some of them. So, while the ABA may issue a formal resolution condemning the “gay panic” defense, a state is free either to accept this position or reject it depending on state law. Regardless, if passed, this resolution would certainly be persuasive, but it is not binding.

  • Cyn

    It always has been a lame defense. If I, as a cis female, decide a man has been to forward with me, I am not allowed to beat the shit out of him, or assault him in any way. While I have broken a few hands that would not keep to themselves, mostly it was on men who would never ever report being assaulted by a woman. “Gay panic” is simply a green light for packs of idiots to beat the tar out of anyone they perceive as gay.

  • erasure25

    @Caleb in SC: Thanks for the insider information. It seems more likely that an attorney would become somewhat of a pariah in their legal social groupings if they constantly use the gay panic defense when the ABA bans it. Something like peer pressure, which is no small thing.

  • Caleb in SC

    @erasure25: I personally have never heard of it being used here in SC. Despite South Carolina’s somewhat backward stance when it comes to LGBT issues, juries here see through BS quickly. This alleged defense will be stricken when solicitors and district attorneys keep arguing against the validity of this sham defense. Eventually, it will be gone altogether, but despite this article, I don’t think it is even commonly accepted anymore, which is a good thing.

  • Joetx

    @hyhybt: Furthermore, states through their legislatures & judicial systems, create the laws outside of those promulgated by Congress & the federal courts. The ABA has no say, especially when it comes to conservative lawmakers & judges.

  • CivicMinded

    How about a gay panic offense? I asked him out and he beat the tar out of me. Send him to prison please.

  • Stache1

    @Ridpathos: Their just taking advantage of the bigotry that was already there in the jury. I’ve been involved in a trial about 13 years ago where the “gay panic defence” was used. This was next to San Francisco and still the jury found him innocent even though the perp was completely guilty.

  • jmmartin

    We had a local “expert witness” who was hired by defense attorneys when they represented sociopathic stud hustler types (rough trade) accused of murdering gay men. This person was a former county medical examiner, retired but willing to testify on a case by case basis, telling juries that when some men are both attracted to, and repulsed by, a homosexual making advances, they “panic” and try to destroy the person representing the object of their abhorrence. In clearly homophobic terms, this erstwhile coroner always painted a picture of gay men as preying mantises, repugnant and eager to “take advantage” of their killers. His suggestion was that gays should simply stay in the closet rather than risk attaining what he saw as their just rewards: death. It was clear from his testimony that he thought homosexual behavior a chosen path one takes, not an orientation one is born with. Fortunately, he is no longer among the living himself. One less scoundrel to aid common murderers in getting off with a “justifiable” manslaughter rather than conviction of a 1st degree or capital offense.

  • abnerbha

    When I read a gay (transexuals are mutilated gays/lesbians and they must abolish sex changes) bashing case in the news, I wonder what the view is of the journalist reporting this on homosexuality/lesbianism. I also wonder if the journalist is a homosexual or lesbian and if so, are they setting aside their bias and reporting the news with no problems. I do not trust news that I get from Daily Kos or the Huffington Post on their coverage of gay bashing cases because they predictably make the homosexual look like an innocent victim no matter what wrong the gay does.

    Even the pro-gay websites Huffington Post & Queerty admit that gays, lesbians & transexuals (mutilated gays/lesbians) are more likely to be drug junkies as you can see these 3 links http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/why-do-gay-men-do-crystal-meth_us_5704023ee4b083f5c60929b5 https://www.queerty.com/whats-behind-the-enduring-allure-of-crystal-meth-for-gay-men-20160405 & https://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20160201/west-village/meth-is-overlooked-problem-transgender-gay-communities-experts
    What the Huffington Post & Queerty links omit are violent crimes gays, lesbians & transexuals commit while high on drugs.

    -If the gay (some cases lesbian) is high on drugs such as cocaine & or meth while committing indecent exposure, stalking, etc., then the homosexual can commit a more violent crime incl. murder in a drug rage after committing indecent exposure. Stalking, indecent exposure, etc. may not be the only crime which the homosexual intends esp. if he is high on drugs. Think you know that when gays & lesbians commit sex abuse, the first thing they do is commit indecent exposure, grab a person’s genitals against will before doing something more violent.

    I would rather have a case where a jury decides if a man’s reaction to bashing or killing a homosexual is justified or excess vs. the man doesn’t do enough and the gay does something worse. Most men and boys who are victims of gays usu. won’t call cops to report that a gay is committing indecent exposure, harassment or in worst cases molestation until some1 reacts violently and bashes the gay.

  • snowfallisfun

    For posters who say that if a homosexual (some cases lesbian) commits crimes such as stalking, indecent exposure, assault & battery (touching a person’s genitals against will is assault & battery or forceplay), etc. that the man should allow the abuse are apologists for molestation because that is what a would be molester wants the victim to do before doing a more violent attack. First again-stalking, harassment, indecent exposure, assault & battery (forceplay), etc. are crimes just by themselves. But they can easily worsen to something more violent.

    Posters must be honest & say that they think if a gay or some cases lesbian commits a crime such as indecent exposure, stalking, etc. that you don’t think a man should have a right to defend himself against this crime. Though you know this & posters talk with forked tongue, here are some things you know but omit, as these cases are unpredictable.

    -If a gay grabs a man’s butt, groin, etc. against will, the homosexual is committing assault & battery or forceplay even if people use mild words such as unwanted….. If a homosexual man is trying to commit a more serious crime such as pedophilia, the first things a gay does is that assault & battery or forceplay. It’s same way that if a man is going to rape a woman, the 1st things he does are grab a woman’s boobs, butt, etc. against will or forceplay. If a homosexual wants to commit molestation-Stalking, indecent exposure, assault & battery or forceplay, etc. are often the first crimes a homosexual does before he molests.

    -If the gay (some cases lesbian) is high on drugs such as cocaine & or meth while committing indecent exposure, stalking, etc., then the homosexual can commit a more violent crime incl. murder in a drug rage after committing indecent exposure. Stalking, indecent exposure, etc. may not be the only crime which the homosexual intends esp. if he is high on drugs. Think you know that when gays & lesbians commit sex abuse, the first thing they do is commit indecent exposure, grab a person’s genitals against will before doing something more violent. You’re offended by a man defending himself if a homosexual commits indecent exposure, etc.

    Proposing (straight or gay) in your house, singles bar or @ a private party is in most cases legal. The right thing to do is say no and leave. If a man is a guest in a gay man’s house and the gay man proposes, the right thing to do is say no and leave because it is the gay man’s house and the gay man did not commit a crime when he did the proposal so the right thing to do is leave the house. However, repeatedly proposing after some1 has said no is criminal harassment.

    If gay man repeatedly proposes such as follow the man around after no has been said, then the homosexual is committing criminal stalking and the man has a right to end this abuse. If a homosexual is going to commit indecent exposure, then it’s a crime and there is no need for a man to say no to a crime the homosexual had no right to do. & there is no need for a man to say no to a homosexual who is proposing to him in a public restroom because public restroom is not a house or a bar and it’s illegal to ask others for sex in public restroom. Public restroom is the place to use toilet and wash up not a place for sex.

    Again if it’s true homosexual committed indecent exposure, harassment, stalking, etc. before men reacted violently, then the fact the homosexual committed a crime before he was bashed must be decided by jury in deciding if gay basher(s) used reasonable or excess force. I would rather have a case where a jury decides if a man’s reaction to bashing or killing a homosexual is justified or excess vs. the man doesn’t do enough and the gay does something worse. Most men and boys who are victims of gays usu. won’t call cops to report that a gay is committing indecent exposure, harassment or in worst cases molestation until some1 reacts violently and bashes the gay.

  • snowfallisfun

    Comment sometimes people make is that if a man makes ‘unwanted ….’ to a woman, should she have a right to attack or kill a man& or that women don’t have a right to make this defense. When this comment is made I wonder if the person believe this or do they say this knowing it’s false hoping that if it’s repeated many times unchallenged that it’s believed? There are many cases where women have attacked or killed men & in their trials used the defense that the man was abusing the woman, when in a few cases it was the opposite.

    Jodi Ann Arias stalked her boyfriend and 1 day she murdered him by stabbing him to death and cutting his throat. During the murder trial, Jodi Ann Arias said that her boyfriend abused her when she abused her boyfriend. Travis Victor Alexander did nothing wrong other than be involved with Jodi Ann Arias a woman with Borderline Personality Disorder and in the end that got him murdered & during the murder trial, he is accused of abusing her when it’s other way round. & long before Jodi Ann Arias met Travis V. Alexander, she had a violent history going back years such as Jodi Ann Arias kicking a dog when she was a teenager. & there were defense witnesses who said what they knew is false for money. They didn’t care what the facts were, they just saw a chance to make $ by testifying by making the victim look like the abuser when it’s other way round.

    Another thing to say with gay bashings is that when there’s a case of let’s say a 16 year old boy who bashes or kills a 34 year old gay man, must wonder if the 34 year old gay man was a victim of unprovoked attack or was the 34 year old gay man committing a crime such as harassing the 16 year old boy before the boy reacted violently? Does the gay man who was bashed or killed have an unreported history of stalking, harassing or molesting teenage boys ? Most boys who are victims of gay pedophiles are too shy to talk about this. Most men and boys who are victims of gays usu. won’t call cops to report that a gay is committing indecent exposure, harassment or in worst cases molestation until some1 reacts violently and bashes the gay. Again if it’s true homosexual committed indecent exposure, harassment, stalking, etc. before men reacted violently, then the fact the homosexual committed a crime before he was bashed must be decided by jury in deciding if gay basher(s) used reasonable or excess force.

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