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Pennsylvania House of Representatives
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House of Representatives
Session of 2023 - 2024 Regular Session


Posted: December 9, 2022 09:12 AM
From: Representative Benjamin V. Sanchez and Rep. Michael H. Schlossberg
To: All House members
Subject: Prohibition of the LGBTQ+ Panic Defense

The “LGBTQ+ panic” defense theory allows for perpetrators of criminal actions against Pennsylvanian’s LGBTQ+ community to receive a lesser sentence and, in some cases, even avoid being convicted or punished by placing the blame for their actions on a victim’s actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity and/or gender expression. Members of the LGBTQ+ community continue to face an unprecedented rise in hate crimes each year. According to FBI Hate Crime statistics, incidents targeting the LGBTQ+ community increased steadily each year between their reports from 2016 to 2019. The Human Rights Campaign tracked a record number of violent fatal incidents against transgender and gender non-conforming people in 2020, since their reporting began in 2013.
To address this horrific violence, we will be introducing legislation that would prohibit the use of any LGBTQ+ panic defense in this Commonwealth. Our legislation would extend beyond the language of previously introduced bills on this topic to be more inclusive of all members of this marginalized group of people by prohibiting the courts from allowing a defense of this nature in consideration of serious provocation or insanity.
A victim of violence should not feel that their justice system will not protect them because of a loophole that targets their very existence. It is long past time for Pennsylvania to join the growing list of states that protect their LGBTQ+ citizens by allowing them the same right to justice as everyone else if they find themselves the victims of a violent crime. We ask you to please join us in co-sponsoring this legislation to show a strong message of support to our LGBTQ+ constituents and to close this criminal justice loophole.

Introduced as HB637