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On blaming the victims for the crimes done against them

Outrage Magazine’s position on the use of the gay panic defense of the camp of Hans Ivan Ruiz, who allegedly attempted to kill actor-director Ricardo Rivero.


On June 13, 2011, ABS-CBN TV show actor-director Ricardo Rivero, 39, was allegedly repeatedly stabbed by one Hans Ivan Ruiz, 22. The two had been friends (with the initial contact attributed to Facebook) for over five months prior to the stabbing, with Ruiz sleeping over Rivero’s place on Masikap Street in V. Luna, Quezon City for (in Ruiz’s statements) four times already.

Ruiz, when he was apprehended, initially denied the crime, claiming he had no clue how Rivero sustained the stab wounds, but that the actor-director just woke up while the two were sleeping together, yelling, “Don’t stab me!”

As of July 4, however, when Ruiz already had a lawyer, his story had been changed. No, he no longer denies the stabbing of Rivero. But no, even if he did the stabbing, he is not at fault. The reason: Rivero allegedly made sexual advances to Ruiz, so that murder (had the original intent succeeded) was deemed warranted.

This defense is infamously known as the gay or homosexual panic defense (HPD).  In a gist, as stated by Kara Suffredini in Pride and Prejudice: The Homosexual Panic Defense, HPD argues that the (real or deemed) sexual advances by a gay person is deemed so overwhelming and threatening that an assailant believes he/she has to do significant physical harm to, or even murder the victim in order to protect him/herself.

Outrage Magazine believes that sex-related offenses are – turning pop by borrowing Law & Order: Special Victims Unit’s motto – particularly heinous crimes; and as grave offenses, deserve to be punished accordingly. If Ruiz’s allegation of Rivero’s attempted rape of him is proven to be true, then Rivero should be punished according to the laws of the land.

Rivero, however, did not deserve to be stabbed 17 times to prove the supposed dislike of having an intimate relationship with him. A firm “No”, or walking out of Rivero’s place would have sufficed, particularly for someone who has – prior to the crime – repeatedly done so.

If Ruiz is proven to have attempted to kill Rivero, he should be punished according to the laws of the land. He should not get away with his crime on the basis of the gender of his victim.

The use of HPD is deplorable in many ways.

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As used as a defense in courts, HPD supposedly makes use of the “acute homosexual panic”. However, as coined by Edward Kempf in 1920, the concept actually refers to a psychological disorder with “dual determinators”, i.e. the patient’s terror of his attraction to homosexuality coupled with his fear of heterosexuality. Worth stressing here – and not mentioned by those using HPD as a defense – is how, as stressed by Suffredini, HPD arises “not due to homosexual propositions or advances; rather, it is the result of aroused homosexual cravings that pose serious challenges to the patient’s self control”.

Ruiz is now being portrayed as a father-to-be (as he has a 20-year-old female partner who is now expecting their first child), victimized by an out gay man. In actuality, using HPD as a defense actually means (if Kempf’s proposition is rightfully religiously followed) admitting that Ruiz is latently gay.  But, yet again, this is something that is not highlighted by the defense since it wants to portray Ruiz as a heterosexual man who is a “victim” of homosexual advances, which is supposed to give him some form of rights to be physically violent, or even murderous.  The admittance of Ruiz’s presumed “latent homosexuality”, which is dictated by the very use of HPD as a defense, ought to make what happened more akin to a crime of passion (if not a premeditated crime), not HPD.

As stated by Robert Mison in Homophobia in Manslaughter: The Homosexual Advance as Insufficient Provocation, HPD relies on the anti-gay bias of people by swaying the “prejudices and sympathies away from the brutalized victim and toward the defendant.” In not so many words, therefore, HPD “accrues the great moral cost of further extending an already slippery slope of legally-sanctioned violence against gays.”

Using HPD is abhorrent because it puts the blame on the gay victim for his own demise since, basically, HPD rests on the premise that the victim’s gender (i.e. homosexuality) necessitated his murder.

There are still times when raped women are blamed for getting raped – e.g. that they dressed too sexily, so that they “deserved” what happened to them; or because they stayed out late, so that they had it coming, whatever happened to them. In these times, the victims are made the defendants, so that the real criminals get away with the crimes that they did – all because women were women.

It is in the same vein that HPD is being used, with the punishing of gays firstly because of their being gay.  There is never any excuse for violence against gays when it occurs, so stop using HPD as an excuse for what is nothing but may just be a gratuitous crime.

The founder of Outrage Magazine, Michael David dela Cruz Tan completed BA Communication Studies from University of Newcastle in NSW, Australia. He grew up in Mindanao (particularly Kidapawan and Cotabato City), but he "really came out in Sydney" so that "I sort of know what it's like to be gay in a developing, and a developed world". Mick can: photograph, do artworks with mixed media, write (DUH!), shoot flicks, community organize, facilitate, lecture, research (with pioneering studies), and converse in Filipino Sign Language. He authored "Being LGBT in Asia: Philippines Country Report", and "Red Lives" that creatively retells stories from the local HIV community. Among others, Mick received the Catholic Mass Media Awards (CMMA) in 2006 for Best Investigative Journalism, and Arts that Matter - Literature from Amnesty Int'l Philippines in 2020. Cross his path is the dare (guarantee: It won't be boring).


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