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Oregon legislature passes bill banning 'gay panic' defense in criminal cases

Senate Bill 704 throws out legal strategies where the defendant claims that a victim's sexual orientation or gender is to blame for the violent reaction.

Posted: May 13, 2021 3:12 PM
Updated: May 13, 2021 3:14 PM

SALEM, Ore. — The Oregon House of Representatives passed a bill on Thursday that bans the "gay panic" or "trans panic" defense and their ilk in criminal court proceedings, taking aim at a tactic traditionally used to deflect blame from a defendant accused of violent crimes onto the victim's sexual orientation or gender identity.

“Defendants use these defenses in an effort to avoid full accountability on the grounds that the actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity of the victim is reasonable in and of itself to be considered adequate provocation,” said one of the bill’s chief sponsors, Democratic Rep. Karin Power. “The passage of this bill will send a strong and proactive message that the perpetrator of a second-degree murder will not be able to excuse the crime simply based on who their victim is.”

House Democrats cited the Human Rights Campaign, which reported that 2020 was the "most violent year on record" for crimes against transgender and gender non-conforming people since it began tracking these crimes in 2013, with 44 recorded fatalities.

A 2018 FBI report found an increase of more than 500 percent in reported in hate crimes against people who identify as transgender since 2013, Democrats said, the largest rate of growth in any category.

"LGBTQ+ Oregonians deserve to feel safe, and know that the state does not excuse violence perpetuated against them because of their gender or sexual orientation,” said Rep. Rob Nosse, also a Democrat. “This bill sends a strong message to LGBTQ+ Oregonians that our state does not stand for violence based on gender or sexual orientation. It shows them that we care about their livelihood, and that we are willing to act to hold attackers accountable. It shows them that we see them, and we are working for them.”

Unlike an insanity defense, LGBTQ+ "panic" defense is not an accepted plea in U.S. law, but a strategy used by some defense teams in criminal cases to bolster other defenses and erode culpability for the crime.

Senate Bill 704 passed the House with unanimous support and now heads to Governor Kate Brown's desk for a signature. The bill was first introduced by Basic Rights Oregon. If signed into law, Oregon will become the 14th state to ban defenses of this kind.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 206777

Reported Deaths: 2754
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah40354614
Washington26781248
Marion23425323
Clackamas18925235
Lane13896164
Jackson11535146
Deschutes1001582
Umatilla859387
Linn560380
Yamhill477879
Klamath477678
Polk399356
Douglas387982
Malheur361463
Josephine359872
Benton326422
Jefferson236839
Coos216637
Columbia191929
Union149824
Wasco144330
Lincoln143021
Crook129223
Hood River121933
Morrow115316
Clatsop10559
Baker101115
Curry70811
Tillamook6604
Grant5507
Lake4678
Harney4339
Wallowa1945
Gilliam801
Sherman671
Wheeler351
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3808258

Reported Deaths: 63335
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles124761824454
Riverside3016034627
San Bernardino2992894844
San Diego2817493771
Orange2729225112
Santa Clara1201102188
Kern1107821404
Sacramento1076381731
Fresno1029221724
Alameda895921273
Ventura816381031
San Joaquin746861438
Contra Costa70561813
Stanislaus633871069
Tulare49814849
Monterey43831427
San Mateo42646581
San Francisco37256556
Santa Barbara34596455
Solano33707266
Merced32291478
Sonoma30868317
Imperial28813741
Placer23537299
Kings23189247
San Luis Obispo21421261
Madera16632245
Santa Cruz16235208
Marin14200230
Yolo14156212
Butte12659194
Shasta12630233
El Dorado10371116
Napa1002580
Sutter9656113
Yuba648551
San Benito610963
Lassen578424
Tehama573163
Nevada491075
Humboldt446348
Mendocino432150
Tuolumne420771
Amador373947
Lake356345
Glenn243427
Siskiyou239437
Colusa228418
Calaveras220156
Del Norte14568
Inyo143438
Mono12954
Plumas7366
Modoc5585
Mariposa4657
Trinity4225
Sierra1150
Alpine890
Unassigned330
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