NY Gov. Cuomo: Eliminate ‘Gay Panic’ Defense

Under current law, defendants can attempt to excuse violent attacks by arguing they were under extreme emotional distress

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What to Know

  • A bill to end the so-called 'gay panic defense' is one of Cuomo's top priorities before the Legislature adjourns June 19, he says
  • Under current law, defendants can attempt to excuse violent attacks by arguing they were under extreme emotional distress
  • The law would ensure people who attack or kill a gay person can't beat the charge by arguing they panicked because of the victim's sexuality

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants lawmakers to pass a new law ensuring people who attack or kill a gay person can't beat the charge by arguing they panicked because of their victim's sexuality.

Under current law, defendants can attempt to excuse violent attacks by arguing they were under extreme emotional distress.

Cuomo says that could allow defendants charged with attacking or killing a gay, lesbian or transgender person to argue that they panicked after the victim made a sexual advance or otherwise revealed their sexuality.

The legislation before lawmakers would state that such an excuse cannot be considered a "reasonable explanation" for a violent crime.

Cuomo says the bill to end the so-called 'gay panic defense' is one of his top priorities before the Legislature adjourns June 19.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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