In a unanimous vote on April 21, the Vermont Senate agreed to sign a measure that would stop those accused of murdering and/or assaulting LGBTQ people from using their victim's sexuality or gender as a defense for their actions. This particular defense has been used in courts for decades in order to reduce or lessen criminal charges and prison sentences. The defense claims that people enter a state of "temporary insanity", and that they cannot be help accountable for their actions when assaulting or killing an LGBTQ person. While the defense has never been used in the state before, the measure has been passed in order to avoid it being used at all, according to VTD.
Senator Brian Campion says that House Bill 128 "will never allow a senseless legal argument to act as cover for personal, societal or systemic prejudices and biases".
"This bill ensures Vermont courtrooms never allow such obvious bigotry to come into trial – to heap further suffering onto the victim," he added.
"As a gay man, I take great pride in this body taking this step – another step in a long line of steps it has taken – to undo, reverse, and end long-held and entrenched societal bigotries."via Pink News
Lawmakers passed another, similar bill last month with a vote of 144-1, so it's not likely the bill will face much backlash. The bill has even been worded as to avoid using the gay-panic defense during both trials and sentencing.
The passage of this bill follows Virginia, who passed a similar ban earlier this month, and Maryland might be soon to follow, seeing as their bill (House Bill 231) passed a third reading with a 47-0 vote.
According to the LGBT Bar, several other states are moving to ban this archaic defense. The American Bar Association began urging states to ban it in 2013.
"By fully or partially excusing the perpetrators of crimes against LGBT+ victims," they wrote, "these defences enshrine in the law the notion that LGBT+ lives are worth less than others."via Pink News