Ban On ‘Gay Panic’ Defense Passes California Assembly, Heads To Governor Jerry Brown

JerrybrownUnder California state law, murder charges can be reduced to manslaughter if it is shown that the act took place suddenly or in the heat of the moment. These events could be deemed "panic" killings, but as of now it is viable for killers to suggest that a person's gender or sexual identity triggered the "panic." If AB2501, which passed the California Assembly in a 50-10 vote on Wednesday, is approved by Governor Jerry Brown, the "gay panic" defense will no longer be allowed in courts. 

The Sacramento Bee reports:

AB2501 by Democratic Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla of Concord would bar defendants from using their victims' gender or sexual orientation to support a so-called panic defense.

Bonilla says such defenses legitimize violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

The American Bar Association urged governments to curtail the use of panic defenses. The gay rights group Equality California says California would have the first statewide prohibition.

Governor Brown has a good track record with LGBTQ issues; hopefully the Golden State is on its way to making history with this new legislation. 


  1. throwslikeagirl says

    This is fantastic news. Brown’s always been in our camp, and never more than this last term.

  2. tominsf says

    This defense has always seemed like a get-out-of-jail-free card for a certain kind of straight man.

    Has anyone ever heard of a straight panic defense? “Yes, judge, I’ve always identified as a lesbian but when that guy came on to me, I was suddenly cast into such intense self-doubt about my sexuality that I _had_ to kill him.”

  3. Bernie says

    I would love to see the expression and hear the right wingers on this! The “gay” panic defense never made sense to me because if you think it about it logically , couldn’t a gay person have a heterosexual “panic” if unwanted heterosexual advances were made? and think about women who have to endure straight men lewd comments? and, yes, I realize my comparison is as irrational and illogical as the gay panic defense!!

  4. Bill says

    @Kieran – I answered your question twice. Unfortunately Towleroad’s servers would not show the comment, and it was inoffensive: it just contained links to California Assembly web sites showing the vote and which members were Republicans.

    I won’t look it up again. Someone else will have to. Only one Republican voted for the bill.