“Panic” defenses that are used to excuse violent crimes against LGBTQ people because the perpretator “discovered” their gender identity or sexual orientation are set to be outlawed in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Delegate Danica Roem (D) introduced House Bill 2132 last month, and it passed the House of Delegates. It went to the state Senate, where it passed by a vote of 23-15 on February 25 with an amendment attached, and was sent back to the House. The House voted to approve the amendment in a 58-39 vote on February 26, making the proposed bill law.
The proposal will go before Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D), where he can formally sign it until the end of March, since the bill will come to him after the state legislature’s special session ends. If he doesn’t sign or veto it within thirty days, the bill becomes law.
“It’s done: We’re banning the gay/trans panic defense in Virginia,” Roem tweeted with a photograph of the final digital vote.
Testimony from Judy Shepard, the mother of the late Matthew Shepard, helped move the legislation forward in the Virginia Senate’s Judiciary committee. Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, a LGBTQ advocacy organization, also provided written testimony.
An amendment submitted by the Senate extends the law further: it includes verbal “solicitation” — as in being verbally propositioned — as one of the unacceptable reasons that a defendant can no longer legally present in court.