New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed a new law on Tuesday that bans the so-called “gay panic” defense for murder, preventing the reduction of murder to manslaughter committed in the heat of passion under certain circumstances. Both houses of the New Jersey legislature overwhelmingly passed the bill.
Under previous law, a homicide that would be murder could be reduced to manslaughter if the jury found that the homicide was committed “in the heat of passion resulting from a reasonable provocation.”
This new law prevents the reduction of a murder charge to a manslaughter charge under circumstances in which the homicide victim made “an unwanted, non-forcible romantic or sexual advance toward the actor, or if the victim and actor dated or had a romantic or sexual relationship.” A provocation is also not considered reasonable if it based on the victim’s gender identity or expression, sexual orientation.
The law takes effect immediately.