A new study has found that there is no scientific proof for the gay panic defence.
Usually used in cases of assault or murder, “gay panic” is when a defendant claims they became temporarily insane and acted aggressively after witnessing homosexual behaviour.
A new study, published in the journal Psychology and Sexuality, tested the saliva of 120 men for a biological response to an array of images, including to men engaging in sexual activity together.
It was discovered that the amount of alpha-amylase present – which appears in the saliva when a person is stressed – turned out to be the same for those who tolerate gay relationships as those who don’t.
“This blows a big hole in that argument that people who react very violently to same-sex public displays of affection are somehow not in control,” said the researcher.
“There is no difference in the stress response based on attitudes. So it doesn’t make sense to say that those people who are reacting violently are doing so because of some biological response.”
Numerous states in the US have now outlawed gay panic, most recently Illinois, which passed a law this week prohibiting its use as a legitimate defence in court.
One of the most notable attempts at a gay panic defence came following the killing of university student Matthew Shepard, when the defendants claimed in court that the young man’s alleged homosexual proposition enraged them to the point of murder.
However, the judge later ruled that the defence wouldn’t be allowed to be used in court.