Showing posts with label Gay Panic Defense. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gay Panic Defense. Show all posts

July 25, 2019

Gay Panic Defense is No Longer Legal in NY But It was in 2013} Used On A Murder of A Trans Woman

For me to wound you or kill you and then turn around and tell the jury or the judge that it was your fault because you are gay, is a slap in the face of anything decent and fair. These killers got away with murder by having their sentences drastically reduced because you are gay and have awakened the killer gay inside me. On the murder of Matthew Shepard that was part of one of the defendants in the case.  Adam
                 Related image
Islan Nettles and a friend were walking home in New York City just after midnight on August 17, 2013, when she ran into James Dixon and a group of young men. The two began flirting — Dixon told police he didn’t remember that — before one of Dixon’s buddies shouted, “That’s a man.” Nettles, 21, was a trans woman.

A scuffle ensued — Dixon newly claimed in an interview with VICE News that he “fell” —  and Dixon punched Nettles, then drove her head into the pavement. She was in a coma for three days before being taken off life support. The killing became a high-profile case involving a “gay and trans panic defense,” a legal strategy that, in part, blames the victim’s sexual orientation for the crime. New York just banned it last month, but it remains legal in 42 states.

“Lawmakers have to understand that this is a defense that devalues the lives of LGBTQ+ people,” Seth Rosen, director of development of the National LGBT Bar Association, told VICE News. “It only promotes stigma.”

Watch our segment, which originally aired on VICE News Tonight on HBO.

June 20, 2019

"Gay Panic" Defense Banned In a NY Case of Murder in NYC

Islan Nettles, a transgender woman who died after being punched in the face on a New York City street.
Islan Nettles, a transgender woman who died after being punched in the face on a New York City street. 


Since as early as the 1960s, defense lawyers have introduced the idea that people accused of murdering lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people had acted in a state of temporary insanity caused and justified by their victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

The legal strategy, known as the “gay panic” or “transgender panic” defenses, was not always effective, and as attitudes toward L.G.B.T. people shifted, it was used less often. But it has still been deployed in recent years by lawyers hoping to win a jury’s sympathy, lessen a defendant’s charges or shorten a sentence.

On Wednesday, New York became the seventh State Legislature to approve a ban on such defenses.

The measure’s passage came amid a growing national push to bar the defenses, which gay and transgender rights activists say codify discriminatory attitudes into the legal system. Lawmakers in three other states approved similar bans this year.

Assemblyman Daniel J. O’Donnell and State Senator Brad Hoylman, both gay Democrats from Manhattan, had introduced bills last weekend that would stop people charged with murder from mounting gay panic or transgender panic defenses. 

The legislation, which was approved during Pride Month and as New York prepared to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, was the culmination of an effort that started when Mr. Hoylman introduced a similar bill in 2014.

“I’m glad that New York is sending a message to prosecutors, to defense attorneys, juries and judges that a victim’s L.G.B.T.Q. identity can’t be weaponized,” Mr. Hoylman said in an interview.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, who has said he would sign the bill, called the measure “an important win for L.G.B.T.Q. people everywhere.”

Several New York-based criminal defense organizations that opposed the legislation signed a statement last week that said the ban would interfere with an accused person’s constitutional right to defend themselves.

“We are absolutely opposed to the limitations of defenses,” said Alice Fontier, the director of the criminal defense practice of the Bronx Defenders, which signed the statement. “It’s ultimately about due process and a fair trial to anyone that comes before the court.” 

Mr. O’Donnell, a former criminal defense lawyer, said he understood those concerns, but believed that New York needed to pass the law to further protect L.G.B.T. victims.

“In the end, our state needs to stand up and say being gay, being trans, is not a defense for killing someone,” he said.

The panic defenses stemmed from psychologists’ assertions that same-sex attraction or gender dysphoria were mental illnesses, according to a 2016 study by the Williams Institute at the U.C.L.A. School of Law,.

Those notions were discredited by the medical community in the 1970s, but not before defendants began to argue that upon learning a victim was gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, they suffered temporary insanity that spurred their violent actions.

The defenses effectively shifted blame onto the victim, re-victimizing them, according to Richard Saenz, a lawyer at Lambda Legal, a national L.G.B.T. civil rights organization.

“It assumes that this person was hiding or trying to be deceptive in some way,” Mr. Saenz said. “And when their sexual orientation or gender identity was discovered, the response was reasonable, even to the point of death.”

The defense strategy received widespread attention after Matthew Shepard, a gay college student, was killed in Wyoming in 1998. Lawyers for one of the accused men tried to argue that their client had beaten Mr. Shepard to death after Mr. Shepard made unwanted sexual advances on him.
Sign Up for Summer in the City

A judge rejected the argument, but the conversation spilled from a Wyoming district court to the national spotlight.

In New York, one of the most high-profile cases involving the defense came in 2013, after a transgender woman, Islan Nettles was beaten to death on a street in Harlem. Her attacker told the police he had flown into “a fury” after finding out that Ms. Nettles, with whom he had been flirting, was transgender.

The attacker, James Dixon, ultimately pleaded guilty to manslaughter and received 12 years in prison, a sentence that Ms. Nettles’s family and activists said would have been harsher had he not been able to cite “transgender panic” in his confession.

The American Bar Association formally called on governments to end the use of panic defenses in 2013. California was the first state to ban the defenses, in 2014. Illinois followed in 2017, and Rhode Island the year after.

Efforts seemed to have picked up this year. Nevada banned the defenses in May, and Hawaii and Connecticut have sent similar bills to their governors, neither of whom have signed them. (A spokeswoman for Gov. Ned Lamont of Connecticut said he planned to do so. A spokeswoman for Gov. David Ige of Hawaii said he was still reviewing the legislation.)

In Congress, Senator Edward J. Markey and Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III, both Massachusetts Democrats, introduced bills last year and this year that proposed to ban the defenses in federal courts. 

In New York, Mr. Cuomo’s efforts came as part of a push to advance gay and transgender rights. In January, at the start of the legislative session, New York banned “conversion therapy” for minors, in which mental health professionals work to change a child’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
New York Passes a Ban on ‘Conversion Therapy’ After Years-Long EffortsJan. 21, 2019
The same month, the Legislature also passed a bill protecting transgender and gender nonconforming people under New York’s discrimination and hate crimes laws.

Mr. Cuomo had originally proposed ending the panic defense as part of his executive budget. In the last month, he made the issue a priority, holding a rally last week with the Bravo TV personality Andy Cohen.

“With the enactment of this measure, we are sending a noxious legal defense strategy to the dustbin of history where it belongs,” Mr. Cuomo said in a statement on Wednesday.

Opponents of New York’s panic defense bill were quick to applaud lawmakers’ strides toward securing L.G.B.T. rights, and said they found the defenses problematic.

“I don’t think that the homophobia or transphobia is acceptable,” said Lori Cohen, the president of the New York State Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, which signed the statement opposing the legislation.

But Ms. Cohen, who identified as a lesbian, said she was skeptical that a measure would effectively address violence against gay and transgender people. 

Instead, she said, lawmakers should address the underlying social issues that led judges or juries to accept these defenses.

Mr. Hoylman rejected that argument.

“I don’t think we can leave it to judges and juries given the record of homophobia that we’ve seen in courtrooms,” he said. “We’re acting prudently to codify values of tolerance and acceptance of L.G.B.T.Q. people.”

A version of this article appears in print on June 20, 2019, on Page A28 of the New York edition with the headline: Rejecting a Murder Defense.

July 20, 2018

Gay Panic Defense Excuses Did Not Prevent The Needle to End His Life For Killing a Gay Young man

Robert Van Hook, 58, was executed by lethal injection today in Ohio for the brutal 1985 murder of gay man David Self.
The state of Ohio today executed Robert Van Hook, 58, convicted of killing David Self in 1985, who earlier this year tried to use the gay panic defense to escape the death penalty, according to a report by LGBTQ Nation.
Van Hook died by lethal injection at 10 a.m. today (Wednesday, July 18). He is the 56th person sentenced to death in Ohio since the state legalized the death penalty in 1999.
David Self was 25 when he was murdered by Robert Van Hook in 1985. Read this tribute to David, written in August 2014 by his close friend, Troy Lynch.
Van Hook never claimed he did not kill Self, but that he had a difficult childhood that included sexual abuse and undiagnosed mental illness. He tried for years to get his sentenced overturned by claiming that his trial lawyers were incompetent, and earlier this year he begged the Ohio Parole Board for clemency, telling board members that he had been suffering from a post-traumatic stress disorder and snapped when Self-made sexual advances toward him.
Nobody bought it. The Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office called Van Hook’s claim “cynical,” writing in a filing that referred to Van Hook’s admission that he had been robbing gay men since he was 15 that he “posed as a gay; he frequented bars that were gay and he preyed on vulnerable victims who were gay.”
Van Hook met Self, then 25, in a gay bar in Cincinnati and after talking for a few hours, the two went back to Self’s apartment. Once they were there, Van Hook strangled self, then stabbed him several times in the neck before cutting open his abdomen and stabbing his internal organs.
When Self was found by a neighbor, he had been nearly disemboweled and Van Hook had left a cigarette butt and a paring knife in his abdominal cavity. Van Hook then stole a leather jacket and some necklaces and fled to Florida where he was arrested and then confessed to the murder.

May 25, 2017

There is No Gay Panic (scientists) but You Most Have known

Homophobic men are no more innately stressed out by seeing men kissing than tolerant men are.
May 23, 2017
The visceral and violent reaction to displays of gay affection dubbed ''gay panic'' has no basis in biology, scientists have found.
Gay panic has been used as a defence in cases of hate crimes against LGBTQ people. It's described as a momentary insanity when someone flies into a rage at seeing romantic or sexual behaviour between men. The defence has been used repeatedly in criminal cases, albeit mostly unsuccessfully.
"These men [who commit attacks] argue that it's out of their control and that it's something completely innate. It's likened to reverting to a natural fight-or-flight defence mode because they've seen something dangerous," Karen Blair, a researcher at St Francis Xavier University in Canada, told IBTimes UK.
But homophobic men have a stress reaction no different to men who are neutral towards gay relationships when they view pictures of men kissing, according to Blair's research, published in the journal Psychology and Sexuality.
Blair and her colleagues decided to test whether there was a biological response that could be called a ''gay panic'' state. They tested the saliva of about 120 men in Utah for a stress response while watching a slideshow of images. Some of the images showed men and women kissing, some showed men kissing other men, some were neutral everyday things like paperclips, and some were disgusting things, like maggots.
They tested amount of salivary alpha-amylase – a digestive enzyme linked to stress – while the men were viewing the images. The levels in people who tolerated gay relationships were the same as those who were found to hold homophobic views.

"This blows a big hole in that argument that people who react very violently to same-sex public displays of affection are somehow not in control," Blair said.
"There is no difference in the stress response based on attitudes. So it doesn't make sense to say that those people who are reacting violently are doing so because of some biological response."
However, the levels of salivary alpha-amylase were higher across all groups of men – homophobic and tolerant – than when viewing the neutral images. This could be due to internalised homophobia even among men who are accepting of gay relationships, Blair said.
"Perhaps this is a sign of some of this historic social conditioning that has been taking place. We have been raised for generations to believe that homosexuality is wrong and that it is disgusting. That is built into the internalised homophobia that gay people have themselves," she added.
"So perhaps what this is pointing to is that we are still physiologically experiencing a disgust response, regardless of our views."
Further research will be necessary to see if the results can be replicated with a larger sample. The approach also has yet to be tested in non-Americans. But the evidence that aggressive homophobia is not driven by an innate biological response offers hope, Blair said, and could spur on interventions to reduce such behaviour.

In the heart of hearts we most have all known there is no such thing as 'a reaction to create panic and harm others when confronted with a gay person.' It was invented by a clever lawyer trying to get his client off for killing a gay man because he thought he was going to get propositioned and therefore he momentarily lost his mind realizing that he too might be gay. It takes some heavy lifting to come up with that one. The lawyer did get the murder charges reduced.

March 21, 2017

Australia Abolishes ‘Gay Panic Defense'

Lawmakers in Queensland, Australia, have passed legislation that removes a controversial "gay panic" defense from the state's criminal code. 
The code previously enabled the measure to be used as a partial defense to murder if an unwanted sexual advance had been made toward the accused. 
It was most famously used in 2008 when 45-year-old Wayne Ruks was killed by two men, Jason Pearce and Richard Meerdink, who claimed Ruks made advances at one of them. 
Murder charges were reduced to manslaughter as a result, despite Ruks' family disputing any notion that he was gay at the time.  Queensland Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Yvette D'Ath said removing the defense had addressed an unacceptable inequality. 
"Queensland's criminal code must not be seen to condone violence against the gay community, or indeed any community," D'Ath said in a statement released Tuesday. 
"The passing of this legislation sends an important message that discrimination is not acceptable and that we value the LBGTI community." 
Ruks was found dead in the churchyard of Father Paul Kelly, a Catholic priest who subsequently led a campaign to have the law changed. 
"After five years of relentlessly campaigning for the gay panic defense for murder to be scrapped from the legal books in Queensland, I can today breathe a sigh of relief and accomplishment," Kelly said. 
Kelly started a petition that racked up 290,000 signatures and told the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper in 2011 that the law was a “homophobic, demeaning, dangerous insult" to gay people. 
He added that it "allows killers to walk away with paltry sentences"  Wayne Ruks' mother, Joyce Kujala, said she had waited a long time for the change in the law. 
“It can't bring Wayne back, but it's some small justice, and it could save a lot of lives in future," Kujala said.

October 1, 2014

California Outlaws ‘Gay Panic' Defense

 8 yrs old killed by mom “gay panic’ she thought he was gay

[JURIST] California Governor Jerry Brown [official website] on Saturday signed into law a bill [AB 2501 text], prohibiting the so-called "gay panic" defense that has been used to reduce homicide charges to manslaughter. The defense has been used by defendants who claimed that they were "panicked" into committing a crime due to a homosexual individual making an advance on them. Recently the defense has even been used in cases involving transgender individuals. The bill, which will make California the first state to outright ban the defense, was passed by the California State Assembly [official website] by a vote of 50-10. The bill was sponsored by assemblywoman Susan Bonilla [official website], who says that these types of legal defenses make violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people appear to garner a less severe punishment.
California has been at the forefront of legislation regarding LGBT rights. In July Brown signed into law [JURIST report] a bill that will change the language in California's marriage code to accommodate same-sex couples. Last August the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld California's law [JURIST report] prohibiting licensed therapists from counseling minors with the intent to convert their sexual orientation from gay to straight. Also in August the Supreme Court of California ended the last legal challenge [JURIST report] to same-sex marriage in the state by refusing to revive Proposition 8, the state's now-defunct law banning same-sex marriage. The previous month, San Diego County petitioned [JURIST report] California’s supreme court seeking to require certain county clerks to enforce Prop 8, arguing that the US Supreme Court's June 2013decision [JURIST report] upholding the repeal of Prop 8 only applied to two of the state's 58 counties. 

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