Vice.com By Mathew Foresta Posted Thurs., June 08, 2017
In 2002, Gwen Araujo, a transgender woman, was brutally beaten to death at a house party in Newark, California by a group of men. The attack came after two of them, who had earlier had sexual relations with her, discovered she was a transgender woman.
Her case is striking not only for the lurid nature of her murder but for the fact that at trial, defendants tried to invoke a trans panic defense, a rare but indisputably toxic legal strategy.
Similar in form to gay panic defenses, they seek to pin blame for violence and assault on one’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Though not often successful—two juries rejected its use by Araujo’s killers—they are troubling for the fact that in most states they’re allowable at all.
In 2013, the American Bar Association (ABA) released a resolution calling for federal, state and local governments to pass legislation curtailing their use; the following year, California became the first state to ban them, partly due to the advocacy of Araujo’s mother, Sylvia. Last week, Illinois passed a bill banning the defense, which Governor Bruce Rauner has indicated he will sign; it will become only the second state to do so.
While more than applause-worthy, it’s worrying that a vast majority of states have yet to ban a legal defense that uses one’s gender or sexual identity to justify violence.
More worryingly, a handful of states besides California and Illinois that have recently tried to ban these defenses have failed—and though legislation is in progress in others, bills that haven’t passed are a case study in the bureaucratic red tape that can bog down what should be all but an open-and-shut effort.
In 2015, lawmakers in both New Jersey and Pennsylvania introduced efforts to ban the use of panic defenses; both efforts eventually died in committee. Pennsylvania representative Michael Schlossberg, who introduced his state’s legislation, said his state’s bill faced death by backburner in the state’s judiciary committee.
“How in God’s name could [panic defenses] be real in the 21st century?” he said. “We introduced [our bill] late, and there wasn’t an interest, unfortunately,” he added.
Schlossberg isn’t deterred, and said he’s considering reintroducing the state’s bill at a later date. New Jersey lawmakers haven’t given up either, having carried over their bill into the current legislative session, where it now sits again with the judiciary committee.
Full article here: https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/being-freaked-out-by-gay-and-trans-people-is-still-a-legal-murder-defense-in-48-states Via Raw Story