Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee-Sanders signed in a new law adding restrictions on “adult-orientated performances” in a bill that originally took aim to reclassify drag shows to be in the same category as adult strip clubs and theaters. The conservative lawmaker first targeted drag shows, but she received pushback from the LGBTQ community.
Senate Bill 43 signed by the Republican governor defined “adult-oriented performances” as a performance that features nudity or seminudity, real or simulated sexual activities and be intended to appeal to “prurient” interests, a term that’s not defined in the legislation.
Under the legislation, adult performances are now banned from public property or funded “in whole or in part” with public funds. The bill also restricts any admittance of minors to be participating or attending the adult show.
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The original version of the legislation would have classified drag shows as adult-oriented businesses, the same category as adult theaters and strip clubs, which would have banned them from being within 1,000 feet (305 meters) of public schools, churches and libraries. The final bill signed by Sanders doesn’t mention drag shows or gender identity, easing some of the concerns from opponents.
Despite the changes, top Democrat in the Arkansas House said the bill was worded too vaguely.
Other states are following Huckabee-Sander’s lead and working on creating similar legislation restricting drag shows.
Tennessee’s lawmakers passed a bill on Thursday restricting drag performances in public or in front of children. Senate lawmakers voted 26-6 in favor of the bill, with only Democrats opposing.
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Under the Senate’s bill, “drag show” is not explicitly defined. Instead, the legislation would expand the definition of adult cabaret in Tennessee’s law to include “adult-oriented performances that are harmful to minors,” as defined in Tennessee’s obscenity law.
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The legislation then bans adult cabaret from taking place on public property or in a location where minors might be present.
“We don’t want to have the door open that they can go see advertent nudity and sexual acts or the depiction of sexual acts,” said Republican Sen. Becky Massey. “I’m sorry, that’s not what Tennessee is about.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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