The state joins California in banning the use of a rare criminal defense that uses a victim’s sexual orientation as justification for a violent crime. Similar legislative measures will be introduced in other states in 2018.
Starting in January, Illinois will bar a rare criminal defense allowing the use of a victim’s sexual orientation as justification for violent crime, a ban gay rights advocates say they will attempt to replicate in about half a dozen states in 2018, reports the Associated Press. Defense attorneys will no longer be able to mount the so-called “gay panic defense” in Illinois, the second state after California to prohibit the tactic. It isn’t common, but one study shows it has surfaced in about half of all U.S. states and has been used with some success. Advocates say bans are necessary because crimes against gay and transgender people are on the rise, but some attorneys remain skeptical, calling the ban politically motivated and unnecessary because the old-fashioned defense wouldn’t hold up in court today.
The Illinois ban sailed through the Legislature in May with no opposition, and Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner signed it into law without comment. Supporters called it a major victory for LGBTQ rights. There are variations, but it generally goes like this: A person doesn’t realize someone is gay or transgender and engages in a flirtation, then discovers that person’s sexual orientation and that discovery triggers a passionate involuntary response such as murder.