Virginia has become the 12th US state to ban the so-called LGBTQ+ ‘panic defence’ after governor Ralph Northam recently signed a House Bill 2132 into law. The law states: “Another person’s actual or perceived sex, gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation” cannot be used as legal justification in a murder or assault case. Virginia now joins a handful of states including California, Nevada, New York and North Carolina where panic defence no longer has any legal standing.
The National LGBT Bar Association said the legal use of panic defence “implies that LGBTQ+ lives are worth less than others…By fully or partially acquitting the perpetrators of crimes against LGBTQ+ victims.” The bill to ban the defence was first introduced by lawmaker and LGBTQ+ activist Danica Roem, who tweeted in celebration after it was made official law: “The LGBTQ+ panic defense is now banned in Virginia…Thank you to my team, the advocates who testified, my colleagues who voted for it and my 15-year-old out student constituent in Manassas Park who requested it.”
Equality Virginia also praised Northam for signing the bill, sharing a statement of celebration on Facebook: “We are thrilled that Governor of Virginia Ralph Northam has signed into law a series of pro-equality bills that will significantly improve the lives of LGBTQ+ Virginians…This is an exciting time for Virginians – these monumental changes bring us closer to a more equal Commonwealth where all are free to live, love, learn, and work.”