Washington lawmakers pass bill banning 'gay panic' defense in homicides

Washington lawmakers pass bill banning 'gay panic' defense in homicides
© Getty

Washington state lawmakers this week passed a measure that would ban a "gay-and-trans panic" defense in homicide cases involving LGBT victims.

The measure, passed by the Washington state Senate in a 46-3 vote on Wednesday, would prohibit a defendant from arguing that they panicked and reacted in a harmful way as a result of someone's perceived or known sexuality or gender identity.

The legislation now heads to Gov. Jay InsleeJay Robert InsleeWashington, Oregon show promising coronavirus trends Overnight Defense: 10,000 more National Guard troops to join coronavirus fight | Democrats float bill to restore Pentagon watchdog to virus oversight panel | Afghanistan releases 100 Taliban prisoners Washington state returning field hospital to FEMA MORE (D), a former 2020 presidential candidate, to be signed into law.

According to The Columbian, the bill was named after Nikki Kuhnhausen, a transgender teen who was killed last year. A Canadian man from Vancouver was later charged with a hate crime, second-degree murder and malicious harassment.

Nine states have banned the "gay panic" defense: California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Nevada, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island.

At least 26 transgender people were killed last year, a majority of whom were women of color.