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Oregon House passes Senate Bill 704, which would end LGBTQ+ panic defenses in the state

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The Oregon State Digest
The Oregon State Digest
David Ryder/Getty Images

By Emily Scarvie

(SALEM, Ore.) Senate Bill 704, which would end the “gay panic” and “trans panic” defense in Oregon, is headed for Gov. Kate Brown’s desk after unanimously passing during a House vote on Thursday, KATU reports.

The passage of the bill, which was first introduced by Basic Rights Oregon, a Portland-based LGBTQ+ rights group, will make Oregon the 14th U.S. state to ban LGBTQ+ panic defenses.

“LGBTQ+ Oregonians deserve to feel safe, and know that the state does not excuse violence perpetrated against them because of their gender or sexual orientation,” Rep. Rob Nosse said.

The defense is a legal strategy that states that “a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity is to blame for the defendant’s violent or lethal reaction.”

The Human Rights Commission has been tracking these crimes since 2013, and said 2020 was the most violent year the organization has recorded so far, with 44 fatalities.

“The passage of this bill will send a strong and proactive message that the perpetrator of a second-degree murder will not be able to excuse the crime simply based on who their victim is,” Rep. Karin Power, one of the bill’s chief sponsors, said.

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