BY: Citizens Count
The Free the Nipple movement has been stirring up controversy on Hampton Beach. Supporters argue that women have the right to go topless in public, framing the issue as one of equal rights that will help desexualize the female breast and facilitate breastfeeding.
Sen. Nancy Stiles (R-Hampton) disagreed, submitting a request for information to the New Hampshire Senate Research Office regarding whether towns may pass municipal bans on public breast exposure without violating current NH law. Laconia currently has such a prohibition on the books, fining women a maximum of $1,000 for going topless. NH law regarding public indecency only prohibits genital exposure and makes no mention of breasts.
Stiles told Seacoast Online that if there was currently no legal way for towns to take action on the issue, she would propose legislation with Rep. Fred Rice (R-Hampton) in 2016 to allow them to do so. She emphasized that any legislation she would propose would simply allow towns to make their own rules regarding women going topless, rather than creating a statewide ban.
Free the Nipple activists appeared topless on Hampton Beach on August 3, and are planning a larger sit-in demonstration on August 23.