Connecticut lawmakers move to ban 'gay panic defense'

Criminal defendants in Connecticut would be barred from claiming as their sole legal defense that they panicked after learning about their victim's sexual orientation

HARTFORD, Conn. -- Criminal defendants in Connecticut would be barred from claiming as their sole legal defense that they panicked after learning about their victim's sexual orientation.

The state House of Representatives approved legislation Tuesday preventing defendants from using the so-called gay panic defense. That defense blames a violent reaction on discovering a victim's actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.

The legislation already cleared the Senate and now moves to the governor.

Democratic Rep. Raghib Allie-Brennan, of Bethel, notes the "gay panic defense" was used in the case of Matthew Shepard, the college student beaten to death by two men in Wyoming in 1998. Those men were convicted.