Washington to Ban Gay Panic Defense

Governor Jay Inslee will just have to sign the bill to ban the gay panic defense, joining Washington as one of the ten states to have banned the practice. Image by Joel Henderson via Grist.org

I’ve written about the gay panic defense before and I stand by my opinion that it’s truly a ridiculous way to try to justify murder and I’m frankly surprised that it exists in the first place. Other people seem to share my thoughts on this subject, as the Washington State Senate, in a majority vote on Wednesday, signed a bill that will ban the gay panic defense in the state, according to The Hill.

The states that have banned this defense so far are California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island, and Washington has a good chance to become the tenth state to ban it. 


Governor Jay Inslee only has to sign the bill for the ban to become law, effectively making it so that a defendant can’t argue that they’re innocent because they panicked after knowing someone’s known or perceived sexual orientation and gender identity. Good! Imagine if it were reversed: “Sorry, I had to kill him because I found out he was straight and I thought he was going to harass me.” Hear how ridiculous that sounds? In addition, the ban would also prevent a claim of “dimished capacity” because the defendant didn’t fully understand the magnitude of the crime that they committed, reports to Pink News.

The bill came about after transgender teen Nikki Kuhnhausen followwas killed by being strangled by her own hair extension after the perpetrator, David Bogdanov, learned that she was transgender last year in Vancouver. Bogdanov was charged with a hate crime, second-degree murder, and malicious harassment. 

While the murder took place in Canada, I think that it’s definitely a positive thing that the Washington State legislature is taking action against homophobic attacks. These types of crimes have gone on for far too long and it’s time that we put a stop to justifying murder by banning the gay panic defense. 

Hopefully, the other forty states will follow suit. 

Source: The Hill

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