N.H. High Court Upholds Convictions in 'Free The Nipple' Topless Case

Feb 8, 2019

August 2015: Sage Bowman says women’s breasts should not be “looked at any differently” than a man’s.
Credit Emily Corwin for NHPR
 

The New Hampshire Supreme Court, in a 3-2 decision issued Friday, has upheld convictions in the "Free The Nipple" case. The high court affirmed convictions for women who went topless and were found at trial to have violated Laconia's ordinance prohibiting indecent exposure.

Heidi Lilley, Kia Sinclair and Ginger Pierro are part of the Free the Nipple campaign. They 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. 

Attorney Dan Hynes represented the women in court where he argued such an ordinance is discriminatory.

"We should be questioning any law that treats someone differently based on an immutable characteristic, whether it be sex, race or anything to that effect," Hynes said.

"Particularly disappointing is that the court found that the ordinance in question did not classify on the basis of gender. I think it's very clear that when you treat women differently than men, that is a gender classification."

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 fine that came as part of the convictions was suspended upon good behavior.