Legislators in New Hampshire have passed a measure that would prohibit conversion therapy on minors by licensed therapists. The bill now goes to Republican Gov. Chris Sununu, who has indicated he supports banning the discredited treatment.
The state Senate approve HB 587 on April 19 by a margin of 14-10, but added a clause that it shouldn’t be taken “to infringe on any constitutional right, including the free exercise of religion.”
The amended version was approved on Thursday.
“Today’s vote… was simply the right thing to do,” said Rep. Ed Butler, (D-Harts Location). “This bill says to our youth that same-sex attractions or questions about gender identity can be normal and that licensed health care professionals cannot counsel otherwise.”
Opponents insisted there’s no proof anyone is performing conversion therapy in New Hampshire and, even if they were, licensing boards already regulate and discipline therapists for using coercive tactics.
If the bill is signed, New Hampshire would join 11 other states and Washington, D.C. in adopting such protections for LGBT youth. California recently became the first state to ban the practice for adults and children alike.
“Children across the Granite State deserve to live their lives authentically and should never be subjected to the abusive practice of so-called conversion therapy,” said HRC Senior Vice President JoDee Winterhof. “This dangerous practice has no basis in science and is uniformly rejected by every major medical and mental health organization in the country. We thank the state legislators who voted to protect LGBTQ youth. Governor Sununu now must sign this crucially important legislation.”
The vote came just days after the New Hampshire Senate approved a measure to add gender identity to its non-discrimination laws. HB 1319 received bipartisan approval, including resounding support from representatives in the state’s majority-Republican House.
Governor Sununu is expected to sign it into law, as well.