The court heard arguments in an appeal by three women convicted last year of violating a Laconia city ordinance by sunbathing topless at Weirs Beach.
Heidi Lilley of Gilford, Kia Sinclair of Danbury and Ginger Pierro of Canaan are supporters of the “Free the Nipple” movement, contending that laws that only ban exposing female breasts are discriminatory.
Their lawyer, Daniel Hynes, told the court that the city of Laconia “has criminalized being female.”
Susan McGinnis from the Attorney General’s office, who presented the state’s case, said it’s “a matter of public safety and morals.”
She noted that state laws distinguish between male and female breasts when it comes to sexual assault, public decency and privacy. “Those statues give women protections that they don’t give to men because they define women’s nipples as sexual or intimate parts and do not do so for men,” she said.
“Harassment and sexual assault increase when women are topless, and therefore there’s a public safety issue involved, in order to protect women,” McGinnis said, adding that such incidents “increase exponentially” during Motorcycle Week in Laconia.
So, one group of females feels legally repressed because they can't go topless on a public beach without getting a citation, another wants extra legal protections because female breasts are considered to be sexual body parts and male breasts aren't.
Touchy subject, says I...