January 29, 2021 at 1:43 pm EST | by Michael K. Lavers
Va. House subcommittee approves bill to ban LGBTQ panic defense
The Virginia Capitol (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A Virginia House of Delegates subcommittee on Friday approved a bill that would ban the so-called LGBTQ panic defense in the state.

House Bill 2132 that state Del. Danica Roem (D-Manassas) introduced passed in the House Courts of Justice Subcommittee by a 6-2 vote margin.

State Dels. Mike Mullin (D-Newport News), Vivian Watts (D-Fairfax County), Karrie Delaney (D-Fairfax County), Don Scott (D-Portsmouth), Nancy Guy (D-Virginia Beach) and Carrie Coyner (R-Chesterfield County) voted for HB 2132. State Dels. Rob Bell (R-Charlottesville) and Les Adams (R-Pittsylvania County) opposed it.

Judy Shepard, Wesley Bizzell of the National LGBT Bar Association and Prince William County Commonwealth’s Attorney Amy Ashworth are among those who testified in support of the bill. Out and Equal Workplace Advocates and other groups also submitted testimony in favor of HB 2132.

“Filing this bill as a constituent service request from an out student in Manassas Park reminds me that young LGBTQ people today in 2021 still live with the same fear I did as a 14-year-old freshman in 1998 when Matthew Shepard was tortured and killed for simply existing as a gay man in America,” Roem told the Washington Blade after the vote. “Equality is constituent service and the lives of my LGBTQ constituents need to be protected by the Virginia General Assembly.”

Eleven states and D.C. currently ban the so-called LGBTQ panic defense. Lawmakers in Maryland are considering a measure that would prohibit the use of the legal strategy in the state.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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