Good move

Oregon becomes 14th state to ban gay/trans panic defense in murder cases

Governor Kate Brown (@OregonGovBrown/Twitter)

The ‘gay/trans panic’ defense – by which someone accused of a murder could claim the sexuality or gender identity of their victim was partly to blame for their actions – has been made illegal in Oregon.

Governor Kate Brown has signed Senate Bill 704 into law on Sunday (May 23).

It becomes the 14th state to do so, following in the footsteps: California, Illinois, Rhode Island, Nevada, Hawaii, Maine, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Washington, Colorado, Virginia, and Vermont.

Washington DC has also enacted legislation banning the defense.

The so-called ‘panic’ defense is used by some people who have murdered members of the LGBTQ community.

Those charged with such crimes will sometimes say their victim made a pass at them and they reacted violently in response. By doing so, they have sometimes seen a murder charge reduced to manslaughter.

Advocates have long argued that this shifts some of the blame for the crime to the victim, or affords them less justice than if they had been heterosexual or cis.

Related: Gay Portland

Senate Bill 704 was passed unanimously by the Oregon House of Representatives on May 13. State Rep. Karin Power (D-Milwaukie), who carried the SB 704, said at the time, “The passage of this bill will send a strong message that the perpetrator of a second-degree murder will not be able to excuse the crime simply based on who their victim is.”

LGBTQ advocacy group Human Rights Campaign was amongst those to welcome Governor Brown signing the legislation.

Similar legislation is also currently being debated in New Mexico, New Hampshire, Minnesota, and Massachusetts.

Related: Gay panic defense banned in New Jersey