Laws Prohibiting Drag Cabaret Take Effect

Bridget Mulroy
Laws Prohibiting Drag Cabaret Take EffectPhoto by(@NicolasMcComber/iStock)

An anti-drag law is sweeping the nation. Sparked by the recent controversy behind 'Drag Queen Story Hour’ in some of New York’s public libraries, Tennessee is one of the most recent jurisdictions to try passing laws prohibiting any drag-related activity. (SB0003, and HB0009.)

The bill passed in Tennessee restricts adult cabaret performances in public. Most specifically, drag-related activity is to be banned in the presence of children; within 1000 feet of a school zone, public park, or place of worship. The bill was passed alongside another set to block the availability of gender-affirming care (hormonal medications for children identifying as trans.)

Anyone who violates the new laws will face misdemeanor charges on their first offense – up to $2500 and a year in jail. Subsequent violations face a felony charge and up to six years in jail.

Some feel the new laws are no different from previous laws oppressing gender fluidity. “It's this subtle and sinister way to further criminalize just being trans.” – Henry Seton ACLU of Tennessee

District Attorney Steve Mulroy in Shelby County, Tennessee, opposes the new anti-drag laws. 

In an email, Mulroy says, "I opposed this law as a solution in search of a problem. The law, as passed, is very narrow, applying only to drag shows on public property or allowing minors, and even then, only if they appeal to the "prurient interest." Under TN law, that requires a shameful, excessive interest in sex; under the 1st Amendment, that must be interpreted narrowly. So I don't foresee this applying to drag shows in my county.  

While I will enforce all laws whether I agree with them, I think this would be a low priority for our office. Here in Shelby County, we should focus on drag racing, not drag shows."

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Hi, I’m Bridget.👩🏻‍🔬 I write about geology & botany... rocks & plants. 🪨🌱🌋

New York

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