I ran across this while reading Hard News Online. For anyone familiar with how hate crimes go involving those from the GLTB community, know how important this legislation can be. For far too long, especially like places in the midwest and southern regions, many people who enact violence on GLTB people get acquitted or their trials dismiss due to the "gay panic" theory. Most might remember this defense being used by Mathew Sheppard's murderers. Luckily, that jury didn't buy it.
Schwarzenegger signs historic 'gay panic' legislation
by The Washington Blade
SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law on Sept. 28 a bill that limits the use of the so-called "gay panic" defense.
The legislation, inspired by the murder of transgender teen Gwen Araujo, is the first law of its kind in the nation. "Gay panic" defenses typically arise in cases in which the victim's sexual orientation played a role in the crime.
Defendants argue that they did not intentionally kill the victim and that their rage was triggered after learning that the victim was gay or transgender -- meaning they should be punished for a lesser offense, such as manslaughter, reported the San Jose Mercury News.
Assemblywoman Sally Lieber (D-Mountain View) wrote the bill that states that it is against public policy for a defendant to play upon the bias of the jury, or for a jury to allow bias against the victim to enter into its decision, according to the Mercury News. The bill revises the current California jury instruction regarding bias, explaining that verdicts cannot be based on bias against the victim, defendant or witnesses, according to the newspaper report.
The bill takes effect Jan. 1 and asks the state Office of Emergency Services to incorporate training on the "gay panic" strategy into its training for prosecutors, as long as funds are available.
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