Hawai‘i to Become 6th State to Ban “Gay Panic” as Affirmative Defense for Murder

June 25, 2019, 1:56 PM HST · Updated June 25, 1:58 PM
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Hawaiʻi’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex, and asexual community is awaiting the governor’s signature on bills, that when signed into law tomorrow, will advance rights and protections of those who identify as such.

LGBT Caucus group photo from Lobby Day organized by UH of Manoa’s Lambda Law Student Association.

Governor David Ige is scheduled to sign House Bill 711 into law tomorrow afternoon. Upon passing the bill into law, Hawai‘i is slated to become the 6th state to ban “Gay and Transgender Panic” as an affirmative defense for murder charges, joining California, Connecticut, Illinois, Nevada and Rhode Island, according to the LGBT Caucus.

According to Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute, an affirmative defense “is a defense in which the defendant introduces evidence, which, if found to be credible, will negate criminal liability or civil liability, even if it is proven that the defendant committed the alleged acts.”

HB711 “Amends the affirmative defense of extreme mental or emotional disturbance to murder or attempted murder by prohibiting explanations based solely on the defendant’s discovery, defendant’s knowledge, or the disclosure of the victim’s gender, gender identity or expression, or sexual orientation.”

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Futher, HB711, “Requires the court to instruct the jury to disregard bias and prejudice if a defendant’s explanation includes the discovery of a victim’s gender, gender identity or expression, or sexual orientation.”

Gov. Ige is also expected to sign House Bill 1165 Relating to Gender Identification, which will go into effect on July 1, 2020. The bill expands gender markers on driver’s licenses and state IDs to include “X” as an option, instead of the traditional “M” and “F” for male and female.

HB 1165 requires a license or state identification card to include a person’s full legal name, date of birth, gender designation, residence address, and license number.  It also specifies gender designation options of F, M, or X.  This will enable Hawaiʻi’s transgender, nonbinary and intersex residents to select “X” as their gender.

According to the LGBT Caucus, HB 1165 will make Hawai‘i the 11th state to expand gender markers on driver’s licenses and State IDs, joining Arkansas, California, Colorado, Indiana, Maine, Minnesota, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Vermont and the District of Columbia.

Hearing at the state Capitol. (2019) pictures: Justin Salsibury, Lynn Robinson-Onderko, C. T., Michael Golojuch, Jr., Carolyn Golojuch, Mike Golojuch & William Fritts. PC: Hawaiʻi LGBT Caucus

Michael Golojuch, Jr. chair of the LGBT Caucus of the Democratic Party of Hawai‘i, “Marriage Equality was not the beginning nor even the end in our community’s struggle as we have shown with the laws we have passed over the past five years. We have more work to do from protecting LGBTQIA+ youth, to our over representation in the prison system, then there is the fact you can fire an employee in 26 states because they are member of our community and the rise in deadly hate crimes against our community, especially for transgender people of color. Today is great day, but we are far from being done fighting.”

The legislature also passed HB 664 Relating to Gender Identity, which clarified that language in the 2018 conversion therapy ban, HRS 453J. HB 664 did not appear on Gov. Ige’s veto list.

The state Department of Health was among those who offered testimony in support of the bill, calling it a “housekeeping measure.”  According to DOH testimony, the measure aims to clarify the language in a bill passed last session banning “conversion therapy” or “sexual orientation change efforts” with minors.

Representatives with the LGBT Caucus say that when enacted or allowed to become law without his signature, it will confirm that “the 2019 Legislative Session was the session that passed the most supportive LGBTQIA+ specific legislation in the state’s history.”

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