LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: Bill seeking accountability for violence targeting LGBTQ+ Oregonians passes Legislature


A desk in the Oregon Capitol. (Amanda Loman/Salem Reporter)

A bill cleared the Oregon Legislature that does away with a legal defense in “gay panic” or “trans panic” cases. 

THE ISSUE: Oregon still allows the “gay panic” and “trans panic” defenses, allowing people accused of committing violence to argue the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity caused them to lose control

THE BILL: Senate Bill 704

WHAT IT DOES: Defendants accused of murder in the second degree can no longer argue that their action should be excused because of the extreme emotional disturbance caused by discovering the victim’s gender identity, sexual orientation or perceived gender. 

WHY IT WAS PROPOSED: Proponents of the bill point to a 2018 report by the FBI showing a 517.4% increase of reported hate crimes against individuals who identify as transgender between 2013 and 2018. Human Rights Commission reports that 2020 was the worst year on record for crimes committed against people because of their sexuality or gender identity. 


The bill passed the Oregon House on May 13 on a 54-0 vote.

State Rep. Teresa Alonso León, D-Woodburn: Yes

State Rep. Brian Clem, D-Salem: Excused

State Rep. Paul Evans, D-Monmouth: Yes

State Rep. Rick Lewis, R-Silverton: Yes

State Rep. Raquel Moore-Green, R-Salem: Yes

State Rep. Mike Nearman, R-Independence: Excused

Sate Rep. Bill Post, R-Keizer: Yes

The bill passed the Oregon Senate on April 14 on a 29-1 vote. 

Sen. Brian Boquist, I-Dallas: Yes

Sen. Peter Courtney, D-Salem: Yes

Sen. Fred Girod, R-Lyons: Yes

Sen. Deb Patterson, D-Salem: Yes 

Sen. Kim Thatcher, R-Keizer: Yes

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT: It heads to Gov. Kate Brown for her signature. 

-Jake Thomas