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Prosecutors call
for end to "gay panic" legal defenses

Prosecutors call
            for end to "gay panic" legal defenses

Prosecutors in
San Francisco on Thursday called for limiting the use of
"gay panic" defenses in criminal trials. On the second day
of a two-day national conference devoted to
debate of the legal strategy, in which defense
attorneys claim their clients' crimes are justified
because of fear or anger toward their victims' sexual
orientation, prosecutors said such a rationale is no longer
acceptable, the Associated Press reports.
"The suggestion that criminal conduct is
mitigated by bias or prejudice is inappropriate," San
Francisco district attorney Kamala Harris, who
organized the conference, told the AP. "We can't outlaw
it, but we can combat it."
Bills designed to counter "gay panic" defenses
are currently pending in both California and New
York. They would require judges to instruct juries
that a defendant's prejudice against his victim cannot
affect their deliberations. The California measure, inspired
by the 2002 murder of transgender teen Gwen
Araujo, would also include the instruction that
considering such prejudice violates state laws
protecting LGBT people from discrimination.
But one conference participant—Angela
Harris, a professor at the law school of the
University of California, Berkeley—said that while
laws against "gay panic" defenses would be helpful,
the legal strategy will eventually lose its
effectiveness over time as gays become more accepted
into mainstream society. (The Advocate)

Tags: World, World

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