There’s been a lot of gay bashers and gay murderers over the years who’ve gotten off lightly in court because they’ve been able to use the so-called “gay panic defense.”
It’s a surprisingly easy sell to some judges and juries that a gay man could flirt with another man and the man who is the object of the flirtation goes temporarily insane to the point of killing the gay man.
It has also often been the case that these allegedly straight men who kill gay men were the instigators of the sexual interest, and then panic post-coitally since someone now knows they have sex with men. Then they kill the gay man to erase the evidence. This is where the “panic” has often entered the crime.
Those of us who’ve been around have often observed that if straight women were able to kill straight men with whom they’ve just had sex and instantly regretted it, society would be littered with the bodies of straight men.
Some prosecutors, judges and juries have been starting to see through this defense. But not all of them.
So it’s good news that one Democratic legislator in New Hampshire is trying to change the laws in that state so that the “gay panic defense” cannot be used:
Incoming state representative Shaun Filiault of Keene campaigned on ending the “gay-panic defense” in homicide cases in the state, and now he is planning legislation to do just that.
Filiault, a Democrat, has requested that legislative staff write up a bill that would prohibit defendants from claiming temporary insanity because of an unwanted same-sex sexual advance.
He said the legal strategy treats the LGBTQ community unfairly.
“A woman who experiences a man’s flirtations would not be able to kill that man and then have her murder charge downgraded to manslaughter simply because she was the object of a man’s flirtations,” Filiault, an attorney, said Wednesday.
“Being the object of a flirtation does not cause temporary insanity, and we should not be treating sexual orientation differently in the law. Let’s have consistency here, and let’s treat a person with equal dignity in the law, and let’s treat a crime as a crime.”
He said his research has shown that the legal defense has been used around the country, although not in New Hampshire.
The American Bar Association has recommended that federal, state and local governments curtail the availability of this defense strategy.
At least 16 states have banned its use, according to a June 7, 2021, report by the Movement Advancement Project, a Colorado-based nonprofit think tank.
Since local courts, prosecutors and police are not required to keep statistics on the gay panic defense, to say it has not happened in NH is a little weird and likely not accurate. I mean, in my experience, it was used a lot for a very long while.
Still, good for newly-elected Rep. Filiault for being proactive.