Republican Gov. Bill Lee signed into law a bill Thursday afternoon that would restrict public drag performances in Tennessee, making his state the first to do so this year.
The state Senate passed the bill earlier Thursday along partisan lines to limit “adult cabaret performances” on public property from being exposed to children, threatening violators with a misdemeanor and repeat offenders. with a felony.
The bill, which the Tennessee House of Representatives passed last week, defines an adult cabaret performance as a performance “featuring topless dancers, go-go dancers, exotic dancers, strippers, male or female impersonators providing entertainment that appeals to a prurient interest, or similar artists”.
Republicans have supermajorities in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. The law will enter into force on July 1, 2023.
The Tennessee measure is the first of nearly a dozen such bills currently making their way through GOP-led state legislatures. Republicans say the performances expose children to inappropriate sexual themes and images, a claim rejected by advocates, who say the proposed measures are discriminatory against the LGBTQ community and could violate First Amendment laws.