Governor Cuomo signs legislation banning 'gay and trans panic' legal defense

NEW YORK (WABC) -- New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation Sunday banning the so-called 'gay and trans panic' legal defense in New York.

The defense had been used to justify violent reaction by defendants who found out the person they were with was gay or transgender.

The ban will prohibit people accused of violent crimes from using homophobia and transphobia as a viable defense strategy in court, said the governor.

"The gay and trans panic defense is essentially a codification of homophobia and transphobia, and it is repugnant to our values of equality and inclusion," Cuomo said. "This defense strategy isn't just offensive - it also sends a dangerous message that violence toward LGBTQ people is somehow OK. It's not, and today we're sending this noxious legal tool to the dustbin of history where it belongs."

The defense was used in court in the 2013 murder of Islan Nettles, a transgender woman.

"In 2013, my daughter Islan was killed in Harlem for being who she was," said her mother Delores Nettles. "Her attacker used the discriminatory 'trans panic' defense. I am so grateful that New York is banning this legislation so that no mother has to go through this again. We must keep fighting so that all trans people can live free from violence and discrimination."

The gay and trans panic defense is one of two anti-LGBT laws Cuomo had called on state legislators to repeal.

He has also proposed allowing surrogacy contracts. New York is one of three states where contracting with a woman to carry a child is not allowed.

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