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Gov. Cuomo signs legislation banning “gay panic” defense in New York State

A measure that ends the use of the gay or trans panic defense in cases was signed into law on Sunday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The bill, signed on the culmination of WorldPride and the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, was a key component of LGBTQ legislation this year.

“The gay and trans panic defense is essentially a codification of homophobia and transphobia, and it is repugnant to our values of equality and inclusion,” Cuomo said.

“This defense strategy isn’t just offensive – it also sends a dangerous message that violence toward LGBTQ people is somehow OK. It’s not, and today we’re sending this noxious legal tool to the dustbin of history where it belongs.”



The bill was approved at the end of the legislation. Lawmakers in the Assembly did not take up the final approval of a bill Cuomo had also sought, legalizing gestational surrogacy, which had been supported by LGBTQ advocates.

The panic defense was seen as a way of sidestepping a more serious sentence in cases in which gay or trans people are targeted, assaulted or murdered.

“By banning the so-called gay and trans panic defense, New York is sending a message to prosecutors, defense attorneys, juries and judges that a victim’s LGBTQ identity shouldn’t be weaponized against them,” said Sen. Brad Hoylman.

Cuomo’s office also on Sunday released a video featuring the mother of Islan Nettles, a trans woman killed in Harlem in 2013.

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