New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu has signed a bill into law banning use of the “LGBTQ+ panic” defense in homicide cases.
Sununu, a Republican, signed House Bill 315 last week. It bars defendants in these cases from blaming their actions on a victim’s actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity. The bill was the subject of contention among legislators, with some objections from both parties.
Some Republicans, for instance, claimed that the bill would make it harder for women to defend themselves against sexual assault. Others said it would limit self-defense pleas in general.
But during the wrangling over the legislation, Democratic Sen. Becky Whitley said, “Absolutely, self-defense is still permitted in this situation. We’re talking about homicide.” It ended up being passed in both houses of the legislature.
Its lead sponsor, Rep. Shaun Filiault, quit the Democratic Party and became an independent because he felt Democrats had not done enough to get the bill passed, even though almost all of them voted for it. Filiault, who is gay, ran on a platform of banning the defense. He expressed gratification and relief that the legislation was finally passed and signed.
“That really shows this is a bipartisan issue of protecting lives and protecting public safety,” he told The Keene Sentinel. “It is nice to see this signed by a Republican governor in a state that has a Republican-controlled legislature.”
He also tweeted, “This affirms that we are each born equal and deserve equal dignity before the law.” The statute goes into effect January 1.
At least 17 states and the District of Columbia have banned use of the defense. Delaware legislators have recently passed such a bill, and it’s awaiting the governor’s signature, which is expected.