Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Calif. Senate passes Gwen Araujo Justice for Victims Act

Calif. Senate passes Gwen Araujo Justice for Victims Act
Copyright by The Chicago Free Press
September 6, 2006

SAN FRANCISCO—The California Senate last week approved the nation’s first bill banning the use of “homosexual panic” as a legal defense strategy.

The bill was named for Gwen Araujo, a 17-year-old Newark, Calif., transgender woman who was murdered by four men in 2002. Three of her alleged assailants utilized panic strategies when on trial for her murder in 2004.

“Passage of this bill is a strong step forward in fighting the bias and hatred that have unfortunately crept into our courtrooms,” said Assemblymember Sally Lieber, who authored the legislation. The law would modify existing jury instructions and mandate the creation of practice materials for district attorneys’ offices.

“It will give prosecutors the tools they need to effectively combat the increasing use of these harmful strategies,” Lieber said.

The bill now goes back to the assembly floor, which it has already cleared once, and is then expected to go on to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“Once again, the California Legislature demonstrates that our state is one in which every person is valued,” said Sylvia Guerrero, mother of Gwen Araujo. “I’m hopeful that the governor will follow their lead by signing this bill into law and making sure that our courts are free of bias.”

A similar bill is currently pending in New York State in response to the savage beating of artist Kevin Aviance.


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