Michigan lawmakers advance bill banning ‘gay panic’ defense

The state Senate in Michigan passed a bill Thursday that would ban “gay panic” and “trans panic” defenses from being used in court.

The legislation, House Bill 4718, prohibits the legal defense that would partially or completely excuse a person’s crimes, like murder and assault, on the grounds that the victim’s sexual orientation or gender were to blame, the Michigan Advance first reported.

The bill passed 24-14 with four Republican senators joining all Democrats in favor of the legislation. The House advanced the bill to the upper chamber last October in a

State Rep. Laurie Pohutsky (D), who introduced the bill in the House last year, said during a committee hearing that the defense was used as a way to assert that crimes against the LGBTQ community “carry less weight because we are inherently less human and therefore less valuable,” the outlet reported.

The legislation notes that “evidence of the discovery of, knowledge about, or potential disclosure of an individual’s actual or perceived sex, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation” is not admissible to demonstrate “reasonable provocation” or to show that an act was committed in the “heat of passion.”

More than a decade ago, the American Bar Associated told federal and local governments to ban legal defenses that attempt to excuse crimes based on the grounds that a person’s sexual orientation or gender identify “is to blame for the defendant’s violent reaction.”

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLADD) posted on social media platform X celebrating the senate’s vote.

“Michigan is one step closer to banning LGBTQ panic as a form of legal defense! House Bill 4718 passed the state senate 24`4 yesterday, and is headed to the house,” GLADD posted. “Thank you to our friends @ActionEqmi for their advocacy efforts on this and other pro-LGBTQ legislation.”

The bill will now head to the state House for final approval before going to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s (D-Mich.) desk. Whitmer is expected to sign it.

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