Legislation banning gay conversion therapy for minors has narrowly passed the New Hampshire House of Representatives a month after failing by a single vote.
The New Hampshire House passed a bill 179-171 on Thursday prohibiting anyone from providing counseling services to children under 18 “relative to conversion therapy seeking to change a person’s sexual orientation.”
The bill will next be voted on again the state Senate, where its passage would add New Hampshire to the handful of states where legislation currently exists protecting minors from conversion therapy — an ineffective and dangerous practice, according to its opponents.
“Conversion therapy is a harmful and damaging practice which attempts to shame young people into changing their sexual orientation or identity,” Democratic state Rep. Ed Butler said in a statement after the House vote. “This legislation simply forbids licensed practitioners from practicing conversion therapy on minor children.”
The bill risks an uphill battle, however, particularly after narrowly failing recently in both the state House and Senate, where votes on the bill last month resulted in ties subsequently broken by House Speaker Gene Chandler, a Republican, and leaving lawmakers to revisit the topic this week.
Opponents of the measure including Republican state Rep. Mark Pearson have argued that the bill would interfere in residents’ right to receive treatment.
“Quietly lurking in the bill is prohibition against gentle client-affirming talk therapy,” said Mr. Pearson, the Associated Press reported.
Nine states and D.C. currently have laws or regulations protecting youths from conversion therapy, according to a report released last month by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law.