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Ban on 'gay panic defense' heads to governor

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) -- Defendants could not escape murder charges by claiming they panicked when they discovered someone was gay or transgender under a bill headed to Gov. Jerry Brown.

The state Assembly approved AB2501 on a 50-10 vote Wednesday.

Current law allows murder charges to be reduced to manslaughter if the killings happened in a sudden quarrel or in the heat of passion. AB2501 by Democratic Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla of Concord would bar defendants from using their victims' gender or sexual orientation to support a so-called panic defense.

Bonilla says such defenses legitimize violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

The American Bar Association urged governments to curtail the use of panic defenses. The gay rights group Equality California says California would have the first statewide prohibition.

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