Gay Panic Attack – A Defense. I was amazed to read recently that laws in 39 U.S. states permit “Gay Panic Attack” as an admissible defense for virtually any crime, including murder.
In a 2015 Texas case, where a man was accused of stabbing a neighbour to death because that neighbour allegedly attempted to kiss him, the “Gay Panic Attack” defense was introduced by his defense lawyer, and the accused only received six months in jail and ten years’ probation. The fact that the stabbing was in the back, and there was no corroborating evidence of the attempt at kissing, apparently didn’t matter.
This is by no means an isolated incident.
A brutal “candlestick” murder, in 1958 in Charleston, resulted in the complete acquittal of the attacker, based on the defense that the victim had made unwanted advances.
The “Gay Panic Attack” defense appears to be a “get out of jail” card….literally.
A study of the subject, by a Texas university professor, revealed that, out of 200 cases identified, 40% resulted in reduced charges and, in 5% of the cases, the verdict was complete acquittal.
In 2014, California led the country in rescinding this defense. The push to rescind the law, interestingly, came from the State’s Attorney General, Kamala Harris. Other states have followed, albeit slowly. To date, ten states have rescinded the defense, with the latest being Colorado in July of this year.
Every country has outdated laws. I wrote a blog on this recently. The problem is no-one thinks to rescind them until a particularly heinous, or blatantly stupid, interpretation come to light.
As I said in the previous blog, some lawyer, who isn’t interested in money, could spent an entire career researching outdated and irrelevant laws, and getting them rescinded.
Unfortunately, the quest for such a paragon has about as much chance of success as finding the best type of political leadership……a benevolent dictator.
We can dream.