Suspect in Puerto Rico teen’s murder ‘may use gay panic defence’
The man arrested in connection with the murder of gay Puerto Rico teenage Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado will reportedly use the ‘gay panic’ defence.
A police report said that Juan A Martinez Matos, 26, murdered the 19-year-old after finding out he was a man.
Police say Lopez Mercado was picked up in a red light district by Matos while dressed in women’s clothes.
Newspaper El Nuevo Dia said that Matos confessed to taking Lopez Mercado to a house but “the suspect (allegedly) found out that Lopez was a man, after Lopez made sexual advances, and as a result of the rage, Matos did what he did”.
Lopez Mercado’s body was found on Friday by a road in the city of Cayey. He had been burnt and dismembered.
The gay panic defence is a controversial plea which is used by a suspect who claims they were violent because of a moment of temporary insanity.
It often sparks outrage from the gay community around the world because it places the burden of blame on the victim.
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It has also been used in cases of violent against trans people.
There is also no equivalent defence relating to heterosexual encounters.
The defence is most frequently used in the United States, particularly in areas where homophobia is widespread.
In the UK, where it is also referred to as the “Portsmouth defence” or “guardsman’s defence”, the Crown Prosecution Service states that:
“The fact that the victim made a sexual advance on the defendant does not, of itself automatically provide the defendant with a defence of self-defence for the actions that take place.
“Often, the sexual advance made by the victim will not involve any physical act of touching, and the reaction of the defendant is borne out of anger rather than any real belief that they were acting to protect themselves from an assault.”