March 31, 2021 at 6:31 pm EDT | by Philip Van Slooten
Northam signs bill to ban LGBTQ panic defense in Va.
decriminalization, gay news, Washington Blade

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam on Wednesday signed a bill that bans the so-called LGBTQ panic defense in the state.

House Bill 2132, sponsored by state Del. Danica Roem (D-Manassas), bans the “discovery” of a person’s perceived or actual sexual orientation or gender identity as a mitigating factor for violence against an LGBTQ victim.

The measure previously passed the Virginia Senate in a 23-15 vote with an amendment that added hitting on someone as a prohibited defense. The Virginia House of Delegates passed the bill by a 58-39 vote margin.

“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 tweeted after the signing.

Virginia now becomes the 13th jurisdiction in the U.S. to ban the defense strategy, according to the LGBT Bar Association who is leading the effort to end its use.

D.C. passed a similar measure last year and Maryland has a version before the General Assembly. Maryland’s ban passed its House of Delegates and awaits a state Senate vote.

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