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Hartford assault charges defense lawyerCrimes committed against members of the LGBTQ community have risen slightly over the past three years. According to data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), most hate crimes are based on bias toward race and religion, but the number of hate crimes (which may include assault or other violent crimes) based on sexual orientation has risen each year between 2014 and 2017. In 2017, there were 1,130 hate crime incidents reported to the FBI that were based on sexual orientation. In some cases, when the alleged offenders are prosecuted, their defense attorneys use what is called the “gay panic” defense. In recent years, this defense has been outlawed in many states, and Connecticut recently joined the group of states who do not consider the gay panic defense as a legitimate defense strategy.

What Is the “Gay Panic” Defense?

A person who allegedly committed assault or murder against a person may claim that they did so because of the alleged victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity. This type of strategy may involve claims of insanity or diminished capacity that occurred due to an interaction with a person who is gay or transgender. An alleged offender may also claim that they were provoked to commit a violent offense because of sexual advances made by the alleged victim. The gay panic defense is often seen as blaming the alleged victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity for the alleged offender’s actions. Those who oppose the use of this defense have stated that it may be used to justify and excuse the assault or murder of LGBTQ victims.

Lawmakers Seek to Ban the Gay Panic Defense

Currently, eight states have passed legislation to effectively ban the use of the gay panic defense, with five of those states passing the legislation in 2019. Connecticut’s governor signed a bill banning the use of this defense in June of 2019. He stated that this legislation was necessary because the use of this defense strategy implies that the lives of gay and transgender individuals are less important than the lives of others. Members of the U.S. Congress are currently attempting to introduce legislation that would ban this defense in federal court. Legislation banning the gay panic defense has also been introduced in seven other states and the District of Columbia.

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