You’ve been with us for all the major victories.
From passing the country’s first standalone transgender justice bill to passing model suicide prevention policy for Oregon’s school districts through Adi’s Act, you’ve helped us ensure that LGBTQ lives are supported and respected.
Now, we’re working to ban the LGBTQ Panic Defense in Oregon and we need your help.
Sponsored by Senator Rob Wagner, Senator Kate Lieber, Rep. Rob Nosse, and Rep. Marty Wilde, Senate Bill 704 seeks to ban the use of the LGBTQ panic defense, which is a legal strategy employed by a perpetrator that claims a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity is to blame for the defendant’s violent reaction—even murder. If passed, Oregon would be the 13th state to ban the LGBTQ panic defense, along with Washington D.C.
And we’re definitely on our way: on Wednesday, April 14, it passed the Senate floor thanks to the support of our Senate champions, Sen. Rob Wagner and Sen. Kate Lieber! Next stop: The House!
The legislation comes on the heels of 2020 being one of the deadliest years on record particularly for transgender people, with 44 people dying as a result of violent acts against them.
Mikki Gillette, Major Gifts Officer for Basic Rights Oregon, said the bill carries incredible importance for trans people’s safety, stating “Trans people in our society live with a fear of violence every day, particularly young trans women of color, who experience by far the greatest amount of anti-LGBTQ violence. This bill will send the clear message that, as trans people, our lives matter just as much as others.”
Dana Spears, the sister of Aja Raquel Rhone-Spears, a Black transgender woman who was murdered last year in Portland, sees this legislation as vital for further protecting Black transgender women and lifting up her sister’s memory. “When we finally see justice for Aja’s murder, we want to ensure that we can show up to the courtroom and her memory is not insulted by someone trying to use the panic defense to justify her death. I’m asking everyone in the community to use their voice for Aja, and see this bill passed.”
Basic Rights Oregon has also collaborated with Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum and legislative sponsors Rep. Karin Power, Senator Kate Lieber, and Commissioner Val Hoyle to prioritize legislation, House Bill 3041, that updates Oregon statutes to clarify existing anti-discrimination protections based on gender identity. While Oregonians have been protected from discrimination based on gender identity since 2007 when the Oregon Equality Act was passed, there is still some lingering confusion as gender identity was included under the definition of “sexual orientation.”
This has caused some problems in implementation, especially as the public grows to have a deeper understanding that sexual orientation and gender identity are two distinct parts of an individual’s identity. For example, whether someone identifies as lesbian, gay, or straight does not necessarily have any impact on whether they identify with a particular gender.
As Nancy Haque, Executive Director of Basic Rights Oregon, explains, “This bill is a simple but impactful act of clarity that’s important for supporting and protecting our LGBTQ community. Basic Rights Oregon has always fought for representation in every aspect of our lives, and with this update, it’s clear that every Oregonian, no matter who they love or how they identify, is protected from discrimination.”