The ban was passed unopposed, and came into effect on January 1.
Illinois has become the second U.S. state to ban the “gay and trans panic” defence. The defence, which was mostly used in assault or murder cases, allowed people to defend themselves by blaming the victim’s sexual orientation or their gender identity as the reason for the attack.
The law was passed unopposed in May 2017 and signed by Gov. Bruce Rauner in August 2017. The ban is believed to be the first LGBTQ-related law to have passed into Illinois law unanimously.
Although the defence is rarely used, a new report found that anti-LGBTQ attacks are on the rise in America.
Brian Johnson, the CEO of Equality Illinois, praised the ban, saying: “It makes our identity sufficient reason for murder. We never wanted it [the defence] to be used going forward.”
D’Arcy Kemnitz, the National LGBT Bar Association’s executive director said: “The gay and trans ‘panic’ defences are outdated relics reminiscent of a time when widespread antipathy was commonplace for LGBT individuals.
“It asks jurors to find that a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity excuses the actions of a violent criminal.
“Our nation’s courtrooms cannot truly be places where law rules supreme while these defences are still allowed to persist.”
Now, the hope is that more more U.S. states will pass laws banning the defence. According to the Associated Press, some of the states that activists are looking at are New York, Maryland, and even Texas. The only other state to have the defence banned is California.
Five years ago, Rev. Paul Kelly started a petition to ban the defence in Queensland after a man named Wayne Ruks was murdered in his churchland. Despite opposition and hatred from some groups, last year in March the petition accepted, and the defence banned.