Arkansas legislation that originally restricted where drag shows could be held, classifying them in the same category as adult strip clubs and theaters, was modified and approved on Monday, no longer considering them as “adult oriented,” according to reports.
The Associated Press reported that the bill was approved with a 78-15 vote in a majority-Republican House, and eased concerns from opponents and LGBTQ advocates.
Late last month, state senators passed legislation that restricted where drag shows, which would be categorized like strip clubs and adult theaters, could be held in a 26-9 vote, with six Democratic senators opposing the measure.
ARKANSAS BILL SEEKS TO CLASSIFY DRAG SHOWS LIKE STRIP CLUBS
Opponents of the bill said it singled out certain groups of people, appearing to put a target on the backs of those some may consider not normal.
Specifically, the bill would classify locations that hold drag performances as adult oriented business, which would prohibit them from being within 1,000 feet of schools, churches, parks, and libraries.
The bill also defined a drag show as someone dancing, singing, and lip-syncing to an audience of two or more people while using a different gender identity than the one given at birth. Additionally, the performer would be wearing clothing, makeup or other accessories traditionally worn by members of the opposite sex than the performer.
ARKANSAS BILL CLASSIFYING DRAG SHOWS AS ‘ADULT’ BUSINESSES ADVANCES IN LEGISLATURE
But when the House got the bill, it was modified.
“This bill is not about whether drag is acceptable,” Republican Rep. Mary Bentley, the bill’s sponsor, reportedly told House members before the vote. “It’s about whether we should be exposing our children to sexually explicit behavior.”
Under the latest version of the bill, restricted performances would include performers who are nude or seminude, and explicitly exposing a specific anatomical area, prosthetic breasts, or genitalia, the AP reported.
To meet the definition, performances must feature real or simulated sexual activities intended to appeal to “prurient” interests, which is not defined in the legislation.
ARKANSAS INTRODUCES NEW BILL DEFINING DRAGS SHOWS AS AN ‘ADULT-ORIENTATED BUSINESS’ UNDER LEGAL CODE
If the performance meets the definition, it would not be permitted to take place on public property and cannot be paid for using public funds. Minors would also be prohibited from the performance.
Despite the changes, the top Democrat in the House said the bill was worded too vaguely.
“I think if people are going to get penalized for doing something, they should understand what the parameters are of that and what the definitions are,” Rep. Tippi McCullough, the House minority leader, said.
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Now that the bill has been approved by the House, it will go back to the Senate in its modified form for approval.
Adam Sabes and the Associated Press contributed to this report.
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