New York has banned the controversial “gay and trans panic” defence for murder.
New York lawmakers passed through a bill banning a defendant from justifying murder by arguing that they were disturbed by the victim’s “sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression as a defence in a criminal case.”
The bill was sponsored by Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell, a gay Democrat from the city.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) wrote on Twitter, along with a statement regarding the ban:
The ban on the ‘gay and trans panic’ legal defense [sic] just passed! With the enactment of this measure we are sending this noxious legal defense [sic] strategy to the dustbin of history where it belongs. This is an important win for LGBTQ people everywhere.”
This isn’t the first pro LGBT+ piece of legislation he has supported, and has also helped to pass a conversion therapy ban and the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) which adds gender identity to state discrimination and hate crime laws.
LGBT+ activists are celebrating this as a vital step towards better rights for gay, lesbian, queer, trans and non-binary people in America.
Others were shocked that this defence wasn't already banned
According to NBC News, gay and transgender panic defences have been used in approximately half of all states since the 1960s.
One of the most prominent and controversial cases to hold such a defence was the trial in the murder of Islan Nettles, who was beaten to death in Harlem in 2013 after James Dixon discovered she was a trans woman.
In the trial three years later, Dixon said: “I just don't wanna be fooled. My pride is at stake.”
Dixon was eventually convicted of first degree manslaughter and given 12 years in prison, a serving many thought too light.