Tim Evanson/Flickr

The internet is celebrating a ban on ‘gay and trans panic’ defense for murder

This makes New York only the sixth state to ban the defense.


Siobhan Ball


Posted on Jun 20, 2019   Updated on May 20, 2021, 10:11 am CDT

The “gay or trans panic” defense is no longer a usable defense in New York homicide cases: It was banned by New York lawmakers through a bill on Wednesday.

The bill bans a murderer from justifying murder on the grounds that they were so disturbed by the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

“The ban on the ‘gay and trans panic’ legal defense just passed! With the enactment of this measure we are sending this noxious legal defense strategy to the dustbin of history where it belongs. This is an important win for LGBTQ people everywhere,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) wrote on Twitter, along with a statement regarding the ban.

In 2013, a transgender woman, Islan Nettles, was murdered by a man named James Dixon after he found out she was transgender. Dixon used the “gay and trans” panic defense and only received 12 years in prison. Nettles’ family said that Dixon would have received a harsher sentence if he wasn’t able to use the defense, according to the New York Times.

Dixon’s case is known as one of the most notorious “gay and trans panic” cases in New York.

People are celebrating the obvious win for human rights.

Some believe it has taken too long to pass such a common-sense bill.

One Twitter user highlighted the inequality of the original law by pointing out how a straight panic defense would never have flown.

Many were astonished to discover that “gay and trans panic” was even a real defense in the first place.

People found the defense so unbelievable that they thought this had to be a symbolic ruling. Yet, this ruling only makes New York the sixth state to ban such a defense. The five other states that have already banned the gay panic defense are California, Illinois, Rhode Island, Nevada, and Connecticut. That’s not even 10% of the U.S.: We still have a long way to go.

The majority of people are simply glad that LGBTQ people are just a little bit safer.


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*First Published: Jun 20, 2019, 5:59 pm CDT