'Gay panic' bill heads to Michigan Gov. Whitmer's desk

A bill preventing a gay or transgender panic defenses heads to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's desk after passing the Michigan House this week.

HB 4718 passed with a 56 to 54 vote Thursday. It was introduced last year by Rep. Laurie Pohutsky (D-Livonia), who serves as the speaker pro tempore of the state LGBTQ+ Caucus.

Currently, a suspect who harmed an LGBTQ+ person can claim a victim's sexuality, gender expression, or gender contributed to the crime. This could include a suspect saying that they acted in self-defense after receiving unwanted advances from an LGBTQ+ person. 

"The defense only serves to dehumanize our community and indicate that violence against us is less impactful, and it's time to eliminate it," Pohutsky said after introducing the bill. 

Under the new law, learning that someone is LGBTQ+ is not a justifiable excuse for using force against them.

Once signed by the governor, Michigan will be the 20th state to pass laws banning LGBTQ+ panic defenses.

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