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New Jersey Bans “Gay Panic Defense”

This week New Jersey joined Hawaii, California, NevadaIllinoisNew York, Connecticut, Maine and Rhode Island in barring the use of the “gay panic defense”

The bill was signed into law Tuesday by Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, who said: “We will always stand with our LGBT+ community and promote full equality for all our residents,” Murphy said in a statement.

The LGBT Bar, a legal nonprofit, has been on the forefront of getting the gay panic defenses banned across the country. The organization defines the controversial practice as “a legal strategy that asks a jury to find that a victim’s sexual orientation is to blame for a defendant’s violent reaction, including murder.”

“The ‘gay panic or trans panic’ defense is not a freestanding defense to criminal liability, but rather a legal tactic. It’s used to diminish the reason for a defendant’s violent reaction that asks a jury to find a victim’s sexual orientation or gender/expression as the cause,” said John McKeon (D- Essex, Morris). “Whether the person was gay, transgender or heterosexual, sexual orientation should not have any bearing on determining a person’s guilt in a murder trial.

“This law is a major step forward in addressing discrimination in our court system, and showing New Jersey’s LGBTQ community that we stand with them in solidarity against any type of discrimination and hatred,” said Joann Downey (D-Monmouth). “The so-called ‘gay panic defense’ or ‘trans panic defense’ has never been more than a transparent attempt to allow the assault or murder of LGBTQ individuals to happen with impunity, and it is long past time that we ended this dark chapter in American legal history.”

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Will Kohler

Will Kohler is one of America's best known LGBT historians, He is also a a accredited journalist and the owner of Back2Stonewall.com. A longtime gay activist Will fought on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic with ACT-UP and continues fighting today for LGBT acceptance and full equality. Will’s work has been referenced on such notable media venues as BBC News, CNN, MSNBC, The Washington Post, The Daily Wall Street Journal, Hollywood Reporter, and Raw Story. Back2Stonewall has been recently added to the Library of Congress' LGBTQ+ Studies Web Archive. Mr. Kohler is available for comment, interviews and lectures on LGBT History. Contact: Will@Back2Stonewall.com

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