fersakyn: (Default)
Until I read this LJ entry about a horrific murder committed in Indiana, I had no idea that the gay panic defense even existed.

The issue at large in this murder is not whether or not the victim was gay -- in fact, all of the people interviewed who lived in the town deny that the victim was gay, that there were any rumors or speculation he was gay. It is the idea that someone could claim that "in the heat of the moment" when s/he found out that the victim was gay, s/he "panicked" and killed the victim, and that this line of reasoning somehow lessens the charge of murder to manslaughter, or even (god forbid) acquittal.

The fact that Indiana, one of five remaining states in the U.S., has no hate crime legislation, means that defendants in assault and murder trials can claim this defense without impunity, and there is further the implication that this defense will be found reasonable, and perhaps even excuse whatever crime the defendant is accused of. I think, and as is also argued in the LJ entry, hate crime legislation would make it more difficult to claim this sort of defense, and indeed make it more punitive since in essence this defense fundamentally acknowledges that the crime of murder was committed BECAUSE the victim was, or was assumed to be, gay.

And here I had thought the weirdest jurisprudence defense I'd ever heard of was the twinkie defense.

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fersakyn

October 2011

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