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Illinois law bars 'gay panic' defense

by Los Angeles Times | December 31, 2017 at 3:36 a.m. | Updated December 31, 2017 at 3:36 a.m.

For decades, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people have been brutally attacked or killed and then blamed for their own deaths in cases where attorneys attempt, sometimes successfully, to use a "gay panic" or "trans panic" defense.

Starting Monday, attorneys in Illinois will be barred from using the approach after a state law passed -- without a single no vote in either the state House or Senate -- making it the second state in the country to ban the defense in the courtroom.

Anthony Michael Kreis, who drafted the Illinois legislation, said that the passage of the "gay panic" defense law has boosted efforts in other states to enact similar bans.

Kreis said because the homosexual and transgender community is at higher risk for violence, the law comes at an important time.

This year marked the deadliest year on record for the transgender community, with at least 28 people shot and killed across the United States, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

"It sends an important message to the LGBTQ community that the state will protect them equally and the courts will not be allowed to entertain these types of defenses, which victimize victims again," Kreis said of the new Illinois law.

There isn't an exact definition, but a gay or trans panic defense is essentially when someone doesn't realize they're interacting with a homosexual or transgender person and becomes so overcome with rage when they realize it that they physically attack the person.

California was the first state to ban the defense, in 2014, and the American Bar Association pushed for a ban in 2013.

A Section on 12/31/2017

Print Headline: Illinois law bars 'gay panic' defense

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