Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed a bill on Monday banning the so-called “panic defense” in court, meaning that defendants can no longer blame victims’ sexual orientation or gender identity for their violent actions.
Colorado will become the eleventh US state to ban the defense, following states such as Rhode Island, New Jersey, California and New York. The bill, signed by the first openly gay elected governor, will add further protections for the LGBTQ community. Previously, the “panic defense” has been used to excuse the violent actions of defendants as temporary insanity as a result of a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
Polis stated that the SB20-221 bill will ensure that in cases of violence or murder trials, there is no discriminatory bias, encouraging a fairer trial. The bill was supported by 22 other elected district attorneys and was signed along with other legislation strengthening protections for the LGBTQ community, including coverage for HIV/AIDS prevention medication.