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Press Release – Florida Senate

Tallahassee, Florida –

Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book (D-Davie) and Representative Harris (D-Orlando) filed legislation this week to remove Florida’s use of so-called “gay/transgender panic protection” to legally protect attacks and fatal assaults against LGBTQIAs + persons. . SB 328/HB 393 prohibits the legal strategy of asking a jury to determine that the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity caused the defendant to “panic” and react aggressively.

“It is discrimination and unacceptable for LGBTQIA+ individuals to be held responsible for their own attacks or even murders on the basis that they are simply themselves,” Leader Book says. “The current state of the law that allows someone to attack another person simply on the basis of sexual or gender identity cannot exist – using the ‘panic’ defense is essentially doing legal gymnastics to defend a hate crime.”

“It is unacceptable to blame an attack on an LGBTQIA+ member on the victim simply for who they are,” says Rep. Harris. “They have every right to freedom of existence without harm. In the current state of things, a person may try to arrange legal defense to justify an assault or even a murder because the victim was someone from the LGBTQIA+ community. We must prevent this type of advocacy that seeks to justify hate crimes.”

The American Bar Association called on states to take legislative action to end the use of “panic protection” in 2013. If Buka’s bill is passed and signed into law, Florida will join 14 other states and Washington, D.C. in enacting “panic protection” bans. including New York, New Jersey, Nevada, Illinois and California.

“Equality Florida applauds Senator Book and Representative Harris for standing up to the crime and violence committed against LGBTQ Florida people,” said Equality Florida Director of Public Policy John Harris Maurer. “At a time when some state leaders are stoking anti-LGBTQ animosity, this legislation reflects the true values ​​of Floridians. No one should bear the burden of the violence done against them and be re-victimized by the legal system because of who they are or who they love. It protects all Floridians.”

Sexual orientation/gender identity consistently ranks as the third leading cause of hate crime, after race and religion, with one in five LGBTQIA+ individuals experiencing a hate crime in their lifetime. Transgender and gender nonconforming people are particularly vulnerable to violence and fatal assaults.

Despite the debunking of the term “gay panic disorder” and its removal from the DSM by the American Psychological Association in 1973, advocates continue to use it. The analysis showed that in about a third of cases, defendants who use the “panic defense” are reduced charges.

This is the third year that Leader Book has filed this legislation as part of its pro-LGBTQIA+ legislative agenda, which continues to include support for a resolution calling on the Florida Legislature to formally apologize for passing the Florida Legislative Investigative Committee, also known as the “Jones Committee.” ” – an investigative body that harassed, intimidated, exposed and even criminalized LGBTQ Floridians, civil rights leaders and academic leaders in the 1950s and 1960s. This will be the fifth year in a row that Book will file and fight for an apology for the taxpayer-funded, state-sanctioned injustices of the John Committee. She also co-sponsored the Florida Competitive Labor Act, which prohibits employers from discriminating based on sexual orientation and gender identity.


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