New Hampshire Governor Signs Historic Trans Rights and Conversion Therapy Bills on Same Day

As was widely expected, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu signed a pair of critical LGBTQ rights bills into law on Friday. On the same day that he approved a historic trans rights bill, New Hampshire became the 13th state to ban the discredited practice known as conversion therapy.

House Bill 1319, which passed the New Hampshire legislature in March, bans bias against transgender people in all public accommodations, including housing and employment. The state now becomes the 22nd with anti-discrimination laws on the books protecting all members of the LGBTQ community. It has banned discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation since 1998.

New Hampshire was the last state in New England without transgender-inclusive non-discrimination protections. Although a historic trans rights bill has failed in the New York Assembly 11 consecutive years, Gov. Andrew Cuomo enacted an executive order shielding transgender people from unlawful bias.

Wisconsin is the only remaining state in the U.S. which protects gay, lesbian, and bisexual individuals in all areas of public accommodation—but not trans people.

Advocates called HB 1319’s passage a “giant step forward for LGBTQ equality.”

“No one should be fired, evicted, or denied services simply because of who they are,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin in a statement. “HRC was proud to work alongside Freedom New Hampshire and local advocates in fighting for this incredibly important victory, and we are thankful for the bipartisan group of lawmakers who took action to ensure this measure became law.”

Masen Davis, CEO of Freedom for All Americans, added in a statement that “LGBTQ equality is not a partisan issue, but a human issue.”

“The vast majority of Americans agree that LGBTQ people should be protected from discrimination,” Davis claimed, “and I’m encouraged to see a growing number of conservative leaders join us in supporting freedom for all—especially after meeting their transgender neighbors and learning about the devastating impact of discrimination against LGBTQ people from all walks of life.”

These protections are of critical importance to New Hampshire’s transgender population, which is estimated at 4,500.

A 2017 report from the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights found that nearly all transgender Americans—or nine out of 10—had experienced some form of harassment or discrimination at work. Experiences included everything from being denied a promotion or refused affirming bathroom access to being fired because of their gender identity.

Seventy percent claimed they had hidden their gender identity at work in fear of retaliation from supervisors or other employees.

HB 1319 will take effect on July 8.

But while signing the trans anti-discrimination bill into law, Sununu also approved another piece of legislation which had been sitting on his desk: a proposal outlawing any attempt to treat the sexual orientation or gender identity of LGBTQ youth.

Bills banning conversion therapy, which is sometimes known as “reparative therapy,” have already passed in 13 states (and D.C.). These states include California, Connecticut,  Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.

Most recently, Hawaii joined the growing list of municipalities outlawing the practice when Gov. David Ige signed a bill criminalizing orientation change efforts last month.

New Hampshire’s House Bill 587 passed the state’s House of Representatives in May. It mandates that any licensed professional caught practicing conversion therapy on an individual under the age of 18 “shall be subject to such discipline as the relevant licensing authority deems appropriate.”

Sununu had previously pledged to sign the bill.

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