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Democrats in Congress Seek to Ban LGBTQ “Panic” Defenses

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LGBTQ+ Panic Defense Prohibition Act, sponsored by openly gay U.S. Rep. Chris Pappas (D-N.H.) in the House of Representatives and U.S.

Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) in the Senate, seeks to prevent defendants charged with serious federal crimes, including murder and assault, as well as hate crime charges, from claiming they were so “panicked” by a victim’s LGBTQ identity that they were unable to control their actions.Such defenses are typically used, in conjunction with other strategies, such as claiming “temporary insanity” or self-defense, to argue that a defendant should not be held responsible for their actions, or should be granted leniency in prosecution or sentencing.

LGBTQ advocates argue that such tactics effectively blame LGBTQ victims for their own deaths or injuries and seek to rationalize away the harm that was inflicted upon them.“No one should be a second-class citizen in the United States, but in many jurisdictions throughout the United States, including our federal courts, violent perpetrators can attempt to avoid accountability for their crimes through the use of bigoted ‘panic’ defenses,” Pappas said in a statement.

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