Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, a
Democrat, on Wednesday signed a bill into law that bans the use of
the so-called gay and transgender panic defense in criminal trials.
Passage of the bill makes Virginia the
first Southern state to enact such a law.
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
Lawmakers overwhelmingly approved House
Bill 2132 in February.
Delegate Danica Roem, a Democrat from
Manassas, sponsored the bill.
“Thank you to my team, the advocates
who testified, my colleagues who voted for it and my 15-year-old out
student constituent in Manassas Park who requested it,” Roem said
in a tweet after the signing.
Similar laws have been enacted in the
District of Columbia and 11 states, including Washington, New Jersey,
New York, California, Hawaii, Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Illinois,
Nevada, and Rhode Island. A bill in Maryland has cleared the House
and is before the Senate.