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Advocates Call For End To Gay/Trans Panic Defense In New York

ROCHESTER, NY (WXXI) - Members of MetroJustice and the Out Alliance are calling for the end of what they say is a discriminatory legal defense.

Gay or Trans panic is a legal defense in New York and most states. After a violent crime, defendants can argue that the discovery of a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity sparked a panic that caused them to react with violence.

It can sometimes result in lesser charges or lighter sentences.

Christine Noble works with MetroJustice and says banning this defense is an important step the state can take in protecting gay and gender non-conforming residents.

"Just the fact that somebody can say Oh I was so freaked out by my encounter with a gay person or a trans person that I had to attack them. And for that to be a legitimate excuse? In a court of law? Its outright stating that someone’s bigotry can be used as a defense when they attack us."

California and Illinois are the only states to officially ban the defense.

Governor Andrew Cuomo has proposed a ban on these strategies, but Noble say it needs to happen faster.

"Our basic legal rights, our basic legal identity is not on par with everybody else if that can happen."

Noble said they hosted the event around tax time because that’s a basic duty everyone has to do, but not all citizens are being treated equally.