The Gay Panic Defense

This is a legal defence used in court, known in some countries as the Homosexual Advance Defense. I'm pretty sure its widely known, but for the purpose of the journal, I will state the definition.

The gay panic defence is often used by the perpetrator of a hate crime under the claim that the victim's homosexual advance ("hitting on them"Wink or proposition frightened them to the point where it triggered psychotic rage and uncharacteristic violence. The perpetrator's extreme homophobia apparently induces a condition of temporary insanity.

Its apparently a little-known psychiatric condition.

It was used by the perpetrators in the Matthew Shepard case in 1998. It was also used in 1995 by a man who killed his friend after learning that his friend felt sexually attracted to him. In both cases, the perpetrators were convicted and sent to prison.

See, here's the thing, I'm not a psychology/psychiatry student. I'm still in high school for another few days and won't start going to university until September, so I really don't know if its actually a mental condition or not. I mean, clearly, murderers are usually never completely right in the head, but this is something a little different.

Like, I said, I don't know much (or anything, really) about psychology and psychiatry, but I cannot shake the feeling that the "gay panic defence" is BS. I mean, I wouldn't know, I'm just some kid. But I still feel like its nonsense.

There also exists a "trans panic defence", which refers to a similar condition triggered by transexuals or intersex people. I call BS on that as well. Because here's the thing, if a "gay panic defence" exists, why is there no "straight panic defence"?

Like, if (when I turn 21), I go to a bar and some gross divorcee hits on me, can I rearrange his face and them claim that his unwarranted sexual advance triggered a state of temporary insanity and uncharacteristic violence? No, of course not. Because that's ridiculous. In fact, if someone has such a condition, maybe they should just not go to bars or clubs, because that's safer.

People with this "condition" should carry bracelets like diabetics and this bracelet would notify those around them, gay and straight, that unwarranted sexual advances will result in gruesome injuries and/or death. Like, I'm not even gay. But you can be freaking asexual and still realize how stupid this is.

And as for Matthew Shepard's case, that was a really stupid defense to use. I mean, it was obviously stupid to beat someone and then tie them to a fence and leave. But to use that defense seems overly idiotic because, for the sake of argument, suppose Mr. Shepard made a sexual advance.

If he did, and it triggered a state of temporary insanity in his murderers, wouldn't the temporary state pass, allowing them to return to their senses? If they both really had this "rare condition", I'm assuming they would have flipped out, beat Matthew, and then upon realizing what happened, they would probably have taken him to a hospital and explained the situation instead of tying him to a cattle fence and leaving him there.

I know this happened ages ago, but I just began to research it. And you know what? It pisses me off. In fact, I think it's triggering a state of temporary insanity. I call it "homophobic a-hole panic defense". God.

To end on a lighter note, Gay Panic Defense would make a great band name, if it didn't stand for something so ridiculous and bigoted.
Posted on May 11th, 2009 at 02:28pm

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