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NCTE Backs Bill To End ‘Panic’ Defense in Virginia

View of the Virginia Capitol Building in Richmond

NCTE today announced its support for criminal justice reform legislation in Virginia that would ban the so-called “panic” defense from being used to argue for lienancy in cases of hate crimes and violent crimes against LGBTQ people.
“The so-called ‘panic’ defense has been used to justify violence against transgender people for too long and it’s time this legal loophole is closed. Trans Virginians deserve the same protection from violence as every other person. No excuses,” said Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen, deputy executive director for NCTE.
Despite securing important legal protections over the past several decades, LGBTQ individuals — especially trans individuals — continue to face shocking levels of violent assault and murder. The LGBTQ “panic” defense allows violent offenders to argue for a lesser punishment or even escape punishment altogether by claiming that the sudden realization of the victim’s gender identity or sexual orientation caused or excused their acts of violence.
The Virginia legislation, HB 2132, was introduced in the House of Delegates by Del. Danica Roem of Manassas.
NCTE strongly supports Del. Roem’s legislation to ban the use of the LGBTQ panic defense, and we urge other members of the Legislature to support this legislation as well. We are thankful that Virginia is taking a stand against a doctrine that, at its core, excuses violence based on prejudice.

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