Possible Conversion Therapy Ban Repeal in New Hampshire

Justin Gurekovich, Contributor

On Feb. 15, 2022, lawmakers in Concord, New Hampshire, listened to a lengthy testimony for a bill that would repeal the current ban on conversion therapy in the state for minors. The ban was passed in 2018 and was signed by New Hampshire’s Governor, Chris Sununu, to prohibit the conversion of gay minors to heterosexuality. 

Conversion therapy is the process of attempting to alter someone’s sexuality from liking people of the same sex to the opposite sex through extensive group and individual therapy, often with the use of religion. Research from the International Rehabilitation Council for Torture Victims (IRCT) reveals that clients are usually victims of corrective violence, including beatings and whippings. Clients are also given non-medical prescription drugs such as antipsychotics, antidepressants, and injections to prevent anxiety. 

According to the IRCT, “Electroconvulsive therapy, aversive treatments using electric shocks or vomit-inducing drugs, exorcism or ritual cleansing, force-feeding and food deprivation, forced nudity, and forced isolation and confinement are some of the more extreme examples of conversion therapy.”

People against the ban, including New Hampshire Representative Dave Testerman, have said that the ban currently restricts therapy and religious-affiliated counseling for teenagers in the state. 

“A therapist would talk to them about their fears, what they think, and so on,” Representative Testerman said. “It wouldn’t be taking a cattle prod to them; it wouldn’t be locking them in a closet.” 

This repeal of the ban is opposed by various groups, such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), which states that conversion therapy causes an increased number of gay teenagers to die by suicide.  

The detriments of conversion therapy are clear based on numerous studies conducted by San Francisco State University (SFSU) and the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). According to SFSU, highly rejected LGBTQ+ youth are 8.4 times more likely to attempt suicide and are 5.9 times more likely to have severe depression. 

The statistics provided by UCLA Williams Institute revealed that out of 698,000 LGBTQ+ adults (ages 18-59) in the United States who have received conversion therapy, about 350,000 of them were adolescents when they were introduced to it. The institute also states that 20,000 LGBTQ+ teens who live in the states that do not ban conversion therapy will be given the practice before they turn 18-years-old.

As a gay individual myself,  I couldn’t even imagine walking in the survivors’ shoes of this horrid therapy. Finding yourself and embracing yourself is no easy task to do. I came out in middle school, and although I know and embrace myself better many years later, I still have ways to go. Being gay and a part of the LGBTQ+ community is a lifelong thing; one does not simply choose to be gay, trans, etc. Conversion therapy tries to erase one’s pride by meddling with their thoughts. This causes a person to struggle with their inner emotions and can be highly traumatic.

It feels like we got so far with LGBTQ+ rights, and now it feels like we are going backward. One moment, we legally have our rights, and at any given moment, they could be taken away by a new law or repeal. It will be interesting to see if the repeal of the conversion therapy ban gets passed in New Hampshire while raising the question of whether other states will follow in New Hampshire’s footsteps? 

On another note, love yourself for who you are and express your true self. Do not let hate or repeal of a conversion therapy ban stop you from being you. Keep fighting for our LGBTQ+ rights.