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Spectators watch the Chicago Gay Pride Parade on Broadway Street in Chicago, Sunday, June 30, 2013. (AP Photo/Scott Eisen)

Illinois will ban the 'gay panic defense' in the new year



Illinois will ban the so-called “gay panic defense” in court cases this Monday, according to NPR, making it the second state to do so.

NPR on Thursday reported that the defense occurs when a murder defendant tries justifying their violence as a reaction to learning the sexual orientation of the victim involved.

The controversial legal move has several varieties, but it generally includes a person not realizing someone is gay or transgender before flirting with them.

The individual then discovers the other person’s sexual orientation, prompting an intense involuntary reaction, including murder.

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The American Bar Association (ABA) called for the practice’s banning in 2013, and California than outlawed the defense the next year.

The Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles’ (UCLA) law school in 2016 published a study on the tactic’s prevalence nationwide.

The study found that such defenses have appeared in court opinions in roughly half of states since the 1960s.

The defense is hard to track and identify, however, and no state recognizes it as a free-standing defense in the criminal code.

The maneuver is subsequently used in conjunction with insanity or self-defense claims when appearing in courts.

Illinois’ ban breezed through the state Legislature last May with no opposition, and Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) then signed it into law without remark.

Advocates say such bans are necessary as attacks on gay and transgender people are on the rise across the country.

Some attorneys counter, however, that the ban is politically motivated and unneeded as the defense is old-fashioned and would not pass muster in modern courts.

Supporters next plan to resurrect legislative attempts at similar legislation in statehouses in New Jersey and Washington, where such proposals have yet to see committee votes.

Advocates additionally desire to press forward with parallel measures in Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New York and Texas.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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