The good news is that Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner has signed a bill into law that prohibits defendants from using the gender identity and sexuality of their victims as a motive for violence. Illinois is the second state to do so following California’s precedent in 2014. This means the state’s courts will no longer recognize the argument that the LGBTQ community poses a threat to society, which has been used for the past 50 years to justify the actions of their murderers. The bad news is that this argument is still a legal murder defense in 48 other states.
Back in 2013, the American Bar Association (ABA) urged federal, state, and local governments to legislatively ban the use of the gay and trans panic defense by criminal defendants. Yet to this day, in every state except for California and Illinois, a person can use this courtroom strategy to excuse the assault or murder of another human being, explaining it as a reasonable response to an otherwise irrational fear of gay and trans people.