A win for LGBTQ+ rights and protections.
Celebrations are in order now that Virginia has become the 12th state to ban the “gay and trans panic” defence.
Governor Ralph Northam signed Bill 2132 this past Wednesday.
The Bill states: “The discovery of, perception of, or belief about another person’s actual or perceived sex, gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation, whether or not accurate, is not a defence to any charge of capital murder … assault and bodily wounding-related crimes and is not provocation negating or excluding malice as an element of murder.”
The new legislation was passed in the state Senate and the House this past February.
Danica Roem, a Democratic Delegate and author of the bill, opened up about being inspired by one of her teenage constituents.
The LGBTQ+ panic defense is now banned in Virginia.@GovernorVA just signed my bill HB 2132 to make it happen.
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.🏳️⚧️🏳️🌈 pic.twitter.com/W81Siwyyqo
— Del. Danica Roem (@pwcdanica) March 31, 2021
“He’s out, and he sent me an email asking me to pass this bill, and I came to realise that in 2021, my out teenage constituents are living with the same fear that I did in 1998, after Matthew was killed, and that I did in 2002 after Gwen Araujo was killed,” she said.
“And you think of how many other people will stay closeted because they have a fear of being attacked, let alone all the other fears that a closeted person who wants us to out has.”
After signing the monumental bill, Governor Northam took to Twitter to express his support for the LGBTQ+ community.
“Proud to sign this legislation, especially on #TransDayOfVisibility,” he tweeted.
— Ralph Northam (@GovernorVA) March 31, 2021
In the past, the gay/trans panic defence was used in many cases involving the LGBTQ+ community, most notably in the Matthew Shepard and Gwen Araujo cases.
Matthew was a student at the University of Wyoming when in 1998 he was beaten, tortured and left to die by Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson because of his sexuality.
Gwen Araujo was an American Latina teenager who was brutally murdered by four men after they learned she was transgender.
Even with this incredible win for the LGBTQ+ community, the fight for protection and equality still rages on.
There are currently 13 states that have introduced legislation to ban the “gay/trans panic” defence but have not yet passed.
You can read more about Bill 2132 here.