Texas LGBTQ organizations and drag queens have filed a lawsuit over a state law prohibiting “sexualized performances and drag shows in the presence of a minor.”
The legislation, Senate Bill 12, was signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott in June.
The bill applies to performances containing nudity and “the exhibition or representation, actual or simulated, of sexual acts,” or performances that appeal “to the prurient interest in sex … regardless of whether compensation for the performance is expected or received.”
Businesses and venues that break the law will be fined up to $10,000 per violation. Performers who violate the law can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, which will be punishable by up to one year in jail and a $4,000 fine.
The law is now set to go into effect on September 1.
A coalition of LGBTQ organizations represented by the American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit attempting to stop it.
The plaintiffs in the case are Woodlands Pride, Abilene Pride Alliance, Extragrams, 360 Queen Entertainment, and a drag performer who goes by “Brigitte Bandit.”
“Texas queens and kings from across our great state have been targets of threats and misinformation as a result of the anti-drag law,” said “Bandit” in a statement. “We must reject their attempts to divide us and continue to come together in our truth and power to support each other as Texans should.”
The drag performer added, “Our community will not be used as a scapegoat or a distraction by politicians who do not know who we are or what we do. State leaders should focus on legitimate issues, not political stunts. I dream of a state that’s better for us all, no matter who we are, how we live, or who we love. Long live Texas drag!”
The lawsuit argues that drag is an art and that there will be far-fetched unintended consequences like cheerleading being banned.
The first hearing will occur after the law is in place, on September 28, in the U.S. District Court Southern District of Texas in Houston.
In a statement celebrating the legislature passing the bill in May, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick said, “someone must push back against the radical left’s disgusting drag performances which harm Texas children.”
“I named SB 12 to be one of my top priorities this session because someone must push back against the radical left’s disgusting drag performances which harm Texas children,” Patrick said. “It is shocking to me that any parent would allow their young child to be sexualized by drag shows. Children, who cannot make decisions on their own, must be protected from this scourge facing our state.”
Rep. Matt Shaheen, who sponsored the bill, echoed the sentiments, saying, “We will not tolerate our children being exposed to explicit, hyper sexualized content from any type of performer in any way in the great state of Texas.”
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