Drag performers and other community members in Texas have asked a federal judge to block a bill that could effectively ban drag shows.
Senate Bill 12 is set to become law on Friday, and Republicans ― including Texas Gov. Greg Abbott ― have touted it as a law that would ban drag performances in public. The bill, which was purportedly intended to bar children from attending drag shows, was later amended to remove specific references to drag shows while also broadening the scope of what would be illegal,including shows at private businesses where minors could be present. It would also prohibit the wearing of prosthetics that exaggerate male or female sexual characteristics.
On Monday, drag performers, business owners and members of the LGTBQ+ community testified in front of U.S. District Judge David Hittner to make the case that drag performances are protected under the First Amendment. The testimony is part of a lawsuit that seeks to block the bill from becoming law, the Texas Tribune reported.
Kelsea Ballerini, center, performs "If You Go Down (I'm Going Down Too)" accompanied by drag queens Olivia Lux, Kennedy Davenport, Jan Sport and Manila Luzon at the CMT Music Awards on April 2, 2023, at the Moody Center in Austin, Texas.
“You’re able to be your most authentic self and express that to others,” drag performer Brigitte Bandit told the court, according to the Tribune. “I believe the purpose of SB 12 is to push drag and queer artistry out of public spaces.”
Should the bill become law, businesses could be hit with a $10,000 fine for hosting performances that feature nudity or a “prurient interest in sex,” the Tribune reported. That broad language could make it illegal for Bandit to dress as country singer Dolly Parton in a performance because Bandit wears a breastplate for the act, she testified.
Hittner could issue a permanent injunction or allow the law to take effect. He said his ruling on the lawsuit would be final, the Tribune reported.
Other laws set to go into effect on Friday in Texas include a ban on transgender health care, restricting transgender athletes, rejecting COVID mandates, book bans, armed guards in schools and more. You can see the full list at the Dallas Morning News.