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Gay “Conversion Therapy” Ban Planned for NH Minors in 2016

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Samantha Ames, second from right, says a measure to be introduced in New Hampshire next session follows a national trend of GOP lawmakers turning thumbs-down on gay-conversion therapy. Courtesy: National Center for Lesbian Rights
Samantha Ames, second from right, says a measure to be introduced in New Hampshire next session follows a national trend of GOP lawmakers turning thumbs-down on gay-conversion therapy. Courtesy: National Center for Lesbian Rights
October 23, 2015

CONCORD, N.H. - The stage is set for the Granite State to tackle a hot topic next legislative session: so-called gay conversion therapy.

A Republican lawmaker has announced plans to file a measure that would ban conversion therapy for minors in New Hampshire.

Staff attorney Samantha Ames with the National Center for Lesbian Rights said the New Hampshire bill would follow a national trend.

"What the state bills do, and the New Hampshire bill is very much included in that, is protect minors under 18 from being subjected to conversion therapy at the hands of licensed mental-health practitioners," she said.

Opponents say it should be up to parents to determine the proper care for their children. Ames said the measure would follow the advice of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Psychological Association, both of which say this kind of therapy can increase guilt and anxiety for minors.

Rep. Eric Schleien, R-Hillsborough, said he will introduce the measure in January. Ames said Schleien is among the growing ranks of Republicans denouncing conversion therapy.

"These bills have actually enjoyed broad bipartisan support," she said. "In fact, Chris Christie in New Jersey signed the conversion-therapy bill there into law the same year that he vetoed the Marriage Equality Bill. What we're seeing is a lot of Republican lawmakers who are seeing this is really about protecting our youth, regardless of who they are."

Some say the ban wouldn't go far enough, that it would fail to take into account spiritual or faith-based efforts at "converting" gay youth. Both President Obama and the Surgeon General have taken stands against conversion therapy, calling it junk science.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NH