Lawmakers in the District of Columbia
have approved a bill that bans the use of the so-called gay and
transgender panic defense in criminal trials.
Criminal defendants who use the
controversial defense claim that a violent act was triggered by the
revelation of a victim's actual or perceived sexual orientation or
According to the
Blade, the vote, held on December 15, was unanimous. Mayor
Muriel Bowser, who had a hand in crafting the legislation, has said
that she will sign it into law. Congress also needs to review the
The Bella Evangelista and Tony Hunter
Panic Defense Prohibition and Hate Crimes Response Amendment Act of
2020 is named after Bella Evangelista, a transgender woman who was
murdered in 2003, and Tony Randolph Hunter, a gay man who died from
injuries he sustained from an attack while walking to a gay bar in
2008. In both cases, the men charged attempted to use the panic
DC joins a growing list of states that
have prohibited the defense, including Washington, New Jersey, New
York, California, Hawaii, Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Illinois,
Nevada, and Rhode Island.
The legislation also strengthens the
district's hate crimes law by clarifying that prejudice does not need
to be the sole motivating factor for a jury to find a defendant
guilty of a hate crime.