Hawaii bans ‘gay panic’ defences and gay conversion therapy

The governor of Hawaii has signed into law three bills that strengthen LGBT+ rights in the state, including banning “gay panic” defenses and gay conversion therapy, and adding a non-binary gender option to driving licenses.

Hawaii becomes the sixth US state to ban “gay or transgender panic” as a defense for murder charges, joining California, Connecticut, Illinois, Nevada and Rhode Island.

Adding a non-binary gender option to driving licenses makes Hawaii the 18th US state to include a non-binary option on some form of state-issued identification paper, according to the Intersex and Genderqueer Recognition project.

And Hawaii joins 16 other US states that have banned gay conversion therapy.

Governor David Ige signed the three bills into law on Wednesday (June 28.)

Hawaii introduces non-binary gender option on driving licenses

Khara Tapay Jabola-Carolus, the executive director of Hawaii’s commission on the status of women, said in an Instagram post, “Hawai’i passed our bill for a non-binary driver’s license, recognising transgender and gender nonconforming identities on government ID. Everyone can select an X option instead of M or F. Let the kids be their authentic selves!”

“This wasn’t just about simple recognition of transgender folks by the mainstream. It was about decolonisation of the status of gender minorities and women, and taking a step to honour the inclusive society of Native Hawaiians,” Jabola-Caolus said.

Residents of Hawaii will be able to choose a non-binary gender on their driving licenses from July 2020.

The new law also means people can choose or change their gender on their driving license without being required to provide proof via documentation.

State senator Stanley Chang, who introduced the bill, said, “As we all know, people have gender identities that may not fit neatly into the traditional stereotypes that we have, and we are sending a strong message today that no matter what your gender identity might be, you are welcome, and you have an equal place in our society.”

The non-binary flag. (PinkNews)

‘Gay or trans panic’ murder defenses now banned in Hawaii

Another new law means that the use of “gay panic” defense in murder cases is immediately dismissed. Previously, defendants accused of murder could reduce their charges to manslaughter on the basis that learning their victim’s gender identity or sexual orientation caused them to suffer from temporary insanity.

Hawaii follows New York, which banned the “gay panic” defense on June 20.

Existing legislation already banned people from attempting to change a person’s sexuality in Hawaii, but the legislation signed by Ige clarifies that it’s illegal to use gay conversion therapy on adults. This law will take effect from July 1.

Hawaii banned gay conversion therapy for minors in 2018.