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 state officials warn providers offering VIP vaccine access Legislators go after governors to rein in COVID-19 powers Inslee rebukes hospital over vaccine appointments for donors 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.