Connecticut may ban ‘gay panic’ criminal defense

Connecticut may ban ‘gay panic’ criminal defense
Photo: Geoff Stearns/Flickr

Connecticut Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney (D-New Haven) introduced SB 58 to the State Senate, which would keep “gay panic” and “transgender panic” defenses from being used in criminal law.

The proposed law’s language is only four lines long, stating “that… the general statutes be amended to provide that a criminal defendant may not use the shock of learning that someone they may have been attracted to was gay or transgender to justify or excuse the violence perpetrated by the defendant against the victim.”

SB 58 is one of the first laws introduced into the new session in Connecticut, and one of Looney’s first after being sworn in as Senate President Pro Tempore.

If passed, SB 58 would make Connecticut only the fourth state to enact such a law, behind California, Rhode Island and Illinois. The former barred the defense in 2004 after its use in the Gwen Araujo murder trial.

Related: He bit a man’s ear off during a gay panic attack, but he won’t be going to jail

In that case, three young men in Newark, California claimed that their several-hour long torture and murder of a young trans women was the result of the shock of discovering that Araujo was transgender.

It is unclear how many times such a defense has been used in cases within Connecticut. 

Connecticut’s bill stands a good chance of passing, with the weight of the Senate President Pro Tempore behind it as well as Rep. Raghib Allie-Brennan (D-Bethel), and Rep. Jeff Currey (D-East Hartford) backing it. Representatives Allie-Brennan and Currey are both out as gay.

SB 58 is currently in the Joint Committee on Judiciary, which will soon meet to discuss the bill before it goes up for a vote.

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