would limit the use of the "gay panic" defense
in criminal court cases cleared a California
legislative committee on Tuesday, moving one step
closer to passage. Named the Gwen Araujo Justice for
Victims Act, the legislation would amend jury instructions
to say that the use of societal bias to influence a
criminal trial is inconsistent with California public
policy, specifically hate-crime laws.
sponsored by gay advocacy group Equality California and
introduced by Assemblywoman Sally Lieber, passed the
assembly public safety committee by a 4-2 vote.
"We should not allow criminal defendants to
blame their victims," Lieber said. "We
prohibit discrimination based on race, religion,
gender, and sexual orientation in nearly all areas of
public life. Why should we allow killers to use bias and
intolerance as a justification for murder?"
will now go before California's full assembly. The
bill is named after a transgender California teen
brutally murdered in 2002. In a 2004 trial that was
later declared a mistrial, lawyers of the three men
accused of attacking and killing Araujo asserted that the
defendants "panicked" after learning Araujo
was a transgender person. (Advocate.com)