A Florida lawmaker introduced legislation Wednesday that would ban attorneys from using the sexual orientation or gender identity of a victim as “reasonable excuses for a perpetrator’s loss of self-control.”
Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book filed S.B. 328, the “Gay and Transgender Panic Legal Defenses Prohibition Act,” for the third year in a row. If the legislation succeeds, defendants would be prohibited from “using a nonviolent sexual advance or specified perceptions or beliefs about another individual as a defense to a criminal offense, to excuse or justify the conduct of an individual who commits a criminal offense, or to mitigate the severity of a criminal offense.”
The bill is known as the “gay/trans panic defense,” WFLA reported.
“People in this community are being prayed upon and people are using this as a defense.”
Florida bill aims to ban “gay/trans panic defense”@wflanicole has more | https://t.co/OLwhOG3HgL pic.twitter.com/ZWhZYb5tG5
— WFLA NEWS (@WFLA) January 25, 2023
“The current state of the law which allows someone to assault another person simply based on sexual or gender identity cannot stand – the use of a ‘panic’ defense is essentially doing legal gymnastics to defend a hate crime,” Book stated in a press release. (RELATED: ‘Gay! Gay! Gay!’: Florida Democrats Chant In Protest Of Parental Rights Bill)
If this bill is signed into law, Florida would join 14 other states and Washington, D.C., which have enacted these bans, according to the Movement Advancement Project.
The American Bar Association has urged states to take legislative action to end the use of these “panic defenses” since 2013.
In 2021, Democratic Sen. Edward Markey and Democratic Rep. Chris Pappas (D-N.H.) introduced similar legislation in Congress. Sen. Markey’s bill was read twice, and neither bill made it to the Senate or House floor.