Gay Panic Defense

Definition - What does Gay Panic Defense mean?

The gay panic defense is a controversial strategy used in an effort to justify or mitigate violent criminal behavior in some cases. In this type of defense, the accused argues that:

  • They acted to halt unsolicited homosexual overtures.
  • They were in an intense, irrational state of fear or panic at the time.

Justipedia explains Gay Panic Defense

In the United States, a resolution passed by the American Bar Association in 2013 prompted efforts to halt the use of the gay panic defense.

As a result, the argument – which has been used in the Matthew Shepherd and Marco McMillian murder cases, among others – is no longer permitted in California and Illinois.

At the time of writing, according to various news reports, New Jersey, Washington and Pennsylvania lawmakers are taking steps to end the use of the gay panic defense in their states.

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