NH House Dems pass conversion therapy ban, outlasting opposition from Republican Speaker & silence from Sununu
Concord, N.H. – Today, Democrats in the New Hampshire House led the effort to pass a ban on conversion therapy. The measure, HB 587, passed 179-171 with Democrats voting unanimously in support of the ban while 171 Republicans (90% of all Republicans voting on the bill) voted to continue the abusive practice. HB 587 now heads to the Senate for consideration. In two years of legislative consideration, Governor Sununu has yet to comment even once on the issue.
NHDP Chair Ray Buckley issued the following statement:
“Thanks to unanimous Democratic leadership, the House today rejected the abusive practice conversion therapy. This came in the face of opposition from Speaker Chandler and the New Hampshire Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut as well as complete silence from Governor Sununu. We are one step closer to ensuring that the state recognizes children for who they are rather than discouraging them from embracing their identity. We cannot continue to codify hate & intolerance. Equal protection under the law is critical to achieving full equality.”
Representative Ed Butler (D-Hart’s Location) released the following statement after the House of Representatives voted to pass HB 587:
“Conversion therapy is a harmful and damaging practice which attempts to shame young people into changing their sexual orientation or identity. This legislation simply forbids licensed practitioners from practicing conversion therapy on minor children.”
“I very much appreciate that the House listened to advocates and reversed its previous narrow vote to defeat this legislation. Passing HB 587 into law will protect countless children from the shame, rejection, and psychological abuse that conversion therapy brings. The House’s support today gives me great confidence that the legislature understands the urgent need to stop this practice on minor New Hampshire children.”
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organization, praised the New Hampshire House of Representatives for passing HB 587. HRC partnered with local LGBTQ advocates, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Hampshire, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), and GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders (GLAD) to help pass the measure.
“We thank the state legislators who took a bold stand to protect LGBTQ youth from so-called ‘conversion therapy,’” said HRC Legislative Counsel Xavier Persad. “This abusive and inhumane practice has no basis in science and is uniformly rejected by every major mental health organization in the country. Children across the Granite State deserve to live their lives authentically, and they deserve to know that they are not broken or ill because of who they are. We are calling on the Senate to swiftly pass this bill and send it to Governor Chris Sununu’s desk for his signature.”
ACLU-NH Policy Director Jeanne Hruska said, “The ACLU-NH commends the NH House of Representatives for rallying behind HB587 and supporting a state ban on conversion therapy. Today’s votes represented a resounding show of support for LGBT youth. Conversion therapy is harmful and ineffective, and has no place in New Hampshire.”
There is no credible evidence that conversion therapy can change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. To the contrary, research has clearly shown that these practices pose devastating health risks for LGBTQ young people such as depression, decreased self-esteem, substance abuse, homelessness, and even suicidal behavior. The harmful practice is condemned by every major medical and mental health organization, including the American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, and American Medical Association.
Connecticut, California, Nevada, New Jersey, the District of Columbia, Oregon, Illinois, Vermont, New York, New Mexico, and Rhode Island all have laws or regulations protecting youth from this abusive practice. A growing number of municipalities have also enacted similar protections, including cities and counties in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington, Florida, New York, and Arizona.
According to a recent report by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, an estimated 20,000 LGBTQ minors in states without protections will be subjected to conversion therapy by a licensed healthcare professional if state officials fail to act.