• NH supreme court: ban on topless women not discriminatory

    Updated:

    Correction: a previous version of this article misinterpreted the majority of the court, ascribing the dissenting opinion to a 3-2 majority when, in fact, it is vice versa. The article has been re-written in accordance with the decision.

    CONCORD, N.H. -- New Hampshire's highest court says Laconia's ban on women going topless in public does not violate state's constitution.

    A decision, written by Associate Justice Anna Barbara Hantz Marconi, Chief Justice Robert J. Lynn and Associate Justice Patrick E. Donovan, affirms the women's conviction. 

    Heidi Lilley, Kia Sinclair and Ginger Pierro, part of the Free the Nipple campaign, were arrested in 2016 after removing their tops at a beach in Laconia and refusing to put them on when beachgoers complained.

    The women appealed to the state Supreme Court after a lower court refused to dismiss the case. A lawyer for the women argued in court that the law is discriminatory and unconstitutional. The state's highest court disagreed and ruled against the women.

    The women say there's no state law forbidding female toplessness and call the case gender-based discrimination because men don't have to follow the same rules. The law's supporters argue it helps prevent public disturbances.

    The 3-2 decision affirms the appellants’ convictions for going topless and violating a Laconia town ordinance prohibiting indecent exposure.

    According to the majority of the court, the law "makes a permissible distinction between the areas of the body that must be covered by each gender."

    You can read the full ruling here.

    >> N.H. lawmakers squabble over topless ban

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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