New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has proposed a ban via a budget amendment on the gay and trans panic defenses from being used to defend criminals in New York State:
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced a 30-day budget amendment will be advanced to prohibit the so-called gay and trans panic defenses from being used in New York State to blame LGBTQ people for the violence committed against them. The current gay and trans panic defenses allow those responsible for violent crimes against LGBTQ people to receive a lesser sentence, and in some cases, even avoid being convicted, by placing the blame on a victim’s actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.
Said Cuomo: “As the federal government attempts to roll back progress we have made, this administration will continue to stand up for the LGBTQ community and ensure the civil rights of all New Yorkers remain protected. With this action, New York will uphold our continued commitment to deliver equal rights, forbid discrimination of any kind, and remain true to the principles this state and nation were founded upon – fairness and justice for all.”
The governor’s office noted how the gay and trans panic defenses have been used:
Although these defenses have appeared in court opinions in approximately half of the states, including New York, gay and trans panic defenses are not currently recognized by any state as freestanding defenses. To reduce a murder charge to manslaughter or to justify homicide, defendants have used concepts of these panics in three ways:
A defense theory of provocation, arguing the discovery, knowledge, or potential disclosure of a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity was a sufficiently provocative act that drove them to violence in that moment.
A defense theory of diminished capacity or insanity, arguing the discovery, knowledge, or potential disclosure of a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity caused them to have a temporary mental breakdown, driving them to violence, or a so-called homosexual panic.
A theory of self-defense, arguing they had a reasonable belief they were in immediate danger based on the discovery, knowledge, or potential disclosure of a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
New York would be the third state to ban such defenses, following California and Illinois.