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Arkansas legislator proposes banning LGBTQ panic defense

State Senator Linda Chesterfield (D-Little Rock) filed a proposed bill that would prohibit using panic as a defense in response to a victim's sexual orientation.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — An Arkansas legislator has proposed a bill that would abolish the panic defense in regards to a victim's sexual orientation.

State Senator Linda Chesterfield (D-Little Rock) filed the bill on Thursday, January 12.

The gay or trans panic defense is a legal defense tactic that claims the victim is to blame for a defendant's violent reaction based on their sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.

"It is not a defense to a prosecution for a crime of violence that defendant's conduct resulted from the discovery, knowledge, or disclosure of the victim's sexual orientation, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, or sex assigned at birth," the bill reads.

A total of 16 states and Washington D.C. have banned the panic defense. The most recent state to ban the defense was New Mexico in 2022.

Arkansas currently has no law for or against the panic defense.


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