SALEM, Ore. – Oregon has become the latest state to pass legislation to end the so-called “gay panic” defense.
Oregon Senate Bill 704 is designed to put an end to legal strategies that claim a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity is to blame for a defendant’s violent or lethal reaction.
The bill will make Oregon the 14th state to ban LGBTQ+ panic defenses.
“Defendants use these defenses in an effort to avoid full accountability on the grounds that the actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity of the victim is reasonable in and of itself to be considered adequate provocation,” said one of the bill’s chief sponsors, Rep. Karin Power (D-Milwaukie). “The passage of this bill will send a strong and proactive message that the perpetrator of a second-degree murder will not be able to excuse the crime simply based on who their victim is.”
The FBI reported an over 500% increase in alleged hate crimes against people who identify as transgender between 2013 and 2018, according to the state legislature.
“LGBTQ+ Oregonians deserve to feel safe, and know that the state does not excuse violence perpetuated against them because of their gender or sexual orientation,” said Rep. Rob Nosse (D-SE Portland). “This bill sends a strong message to LGBTQ+ Oregonians that our state does not stand for violence based on gender or sexual orientation. It shows them that we care about their livelihood, and that we are willing to act to hold attackers accountable. It shows them that we see them, and we are working for them.”
SB 704 now heads to the Governor’s desk for her signature.