Gays experience a disturbing paradox in American society today: while the gay rights movement enjoys increased visibility, gay-bashing is perhaps the most common and most rapidly increasing of hate-related crimes. The Homosexual Panic Defense (HPD) is based on the homosexual panic disorder, a scientific and medical explanation of, and justification for, the behavior of defendants who murder gay individuals. However, while used to justify some of the most frequent and heinous of hate crimes, the HPD has no uniform definition across cases and bears only a tenuous connection to the psychiatric disorder that legitimizes it. This Note explores the disassociation between the disorder and the defense, and argues that the HPD is not actually based on the psychiatric disorder, but rather on social and institutional prejudice against gays. This Note concludes that the HPD's use must, therefore, either be limited by the application of new evidentiary rules, using the rape-shield rules as a guide, or better yet, eliminated altogether.
Kara S. Suffredini,
Pride and Prejudice: The Homosexual Panic Defense,
B.C. Third World L.J.