Bills Regarding “Conversion Therapy” and Gender Identity Coming to House Committee

February 19, 2017

The New Hampshire House Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee will hold public hearings next Tuesday, February 21, on two bills with a common theme: SOGI (sexual orientation/gender identity).

10 a.m.: HB 587, Relative to Conversion Therapy Seeking to Change an Individual’s Sexual Orientation.
HB 587 would prohibit persons licensed to provide counseling services from engaging in “conversion therapy” with a person under 18 years of age in an attempt to alter the patient/client’s sexual orientation. The bill carries a penalty of professional sanctions for the offending counselor.

1:15 p.m.: HB 478, Prohibiting Discrimination Based on Gender Identity.
HB 478 would add gender identity to the list of protected classes covered by New Hampshire’s anti-discrimination law., treating it in the same manner as race. The bill defines “gender identity” as “a person’s gender-related identity, appearance or behavior, whether or not that gender-related identity, appearance or behavior is different from that traditionally associated with the person’s physiology or assigned sex at birth….”

If these measures are intended to recognize the inherent dignity of each human being, they fall short. The sponsors have the burden of proving that these bills are necessary. Or will they create more problems than they’d solve?

How do the sponsors of HB 478 propose to address privacy concerns if public accommodations such as bathrooms are not divided by gender?

If HB 587 is only meant to be used against practitioners who actively advertise “conversion therapy,” where are those practitioners in New Hampshire? Or is the bill a solution in search of a problem?

Do the bills respecting the conscience rights and religious liberty of all New Hampshire residents?

Do these bills build a community marked by mutual respect or one marred by intolerance, labeling, and shaming?

Both hearings are open to the public.