by Guy Page
“There is still more work to do to ensure all Vermonters, regardless of identity, feel safe and protected in our state,” Gov. Phil Scott said after signing the ‘gay panic defense’ bill.
Governor Phil Scott this week signed into law two bills: allowing the use of facial recognition software in criminal cases of child sexual exploitation, and the so-called “gay panic defense,” which would prohibit defense lawyers from using the victim’s sexual orientation or gender identify as an excuse for the crime. These bills are:
- H.195 exempts investigations of child sexual exploitation crimes from the ban on use of facial recognition technology.
- H.128 limits criminal defenses based on victim identity.
The Governor delivered remarks upon signing H.128, which can be viewed by clicking here and read below:
Today, I’m signing H.128, An Act Relating to Limiting Criminal Defenses Based on Victim Identity, into law. With this legislation, Republicans, Democrats and Progressives alike sent a message to Vermonters, that your identity should never be an excuse for someone to cause you harm. What this bill does is make sure a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity can’t be used to defend or justify a criminal act, or to lower a sentence.
I want to thank Representative Small and the other co-sponsors of the bill, as well as the House and Senate Judiciary Committees for your leadership on this issue. I also want to recognize those at the LGBTQIA Alliance of Vermont and the members of the Pride Center of Vermont, who have been advocating for change and equality for years.
While this effort is a step in the right direction, we know there is still more work to do to ensure all Vermonters, regardless of identity, feel safe and protected in our state. I look forward to continuing our work together in the future.
To view a complete list of action on bills passed during the 2021 legislative session, click here.
Rep. Small played a lead role in getting H.128 passed. She is Vermont’s first transgender legislator. According to her State House website bio, the “Progressive/Democrat was born in Portland, Maine. She was raised in western Massachusetts and moved to Vermont with her family in 2010.
“Small graduated from both Colchester High School and Burlington Technical Center in 2012. She then graduated from the University of Vermont with a bachelor’s degree in human development and family studies with a minor in sexuality and gender identity studies in 2016 and has lived in the greater Burlington area since.
Small was elected as State Representative in November 2020, making her the first out transgender person to serve in the Vermont Legislature. She has a strong background in mental health services, community organizing, outreach, and cultural humility education. She now lives in Winooski with her partner and two dogs.”