Governor Abbott has signed a bill that institutes fines of up to $10,000 per violation to any business that is hosting "sexually oriented" performances in front of minors.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott has signed a bill that introduces fines of up to $10,000 per violation for any business that hosts performances deemed "sexually oriented" in the presence of minors.
This legislation, scheduled to be enforced from September 1, forbids businesses from organizing performances deemed "sexually oriented" that involve nudity or content intended to arouse a "prurient interest in sex" in the presence of minors.
Those found violating this law are expected to confront substantial fines, with penalties reaching up to $10,000 per offense, and performers, particularly those involved in drag shows, will face even more severe consequences.
Violators of the law's new restrictions on such performances may be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, carrying a potential sentence of up to one year in jail and a fine of $4,000.
The earlier version of the bill proposed by Senator Hughes explicitly targeted drag performances, drawing widespread criticism from the LGBTQ community and its allies.
However, following negotiations between House and Senate lawmakers, the direct references to drag were ultimately eliminated from the bill.
The revised legislation, which gained approval from both chambers, instead focuses on expanding the scope of activities deemed as "sexual conduct" and, therefore, is subject to legal restrictions.
Drag performers, who utilize artistic expression to explore gender identity and entertain audiences, fear that the amended legislation will provide a pretext for authorities to clamp down on their performances.
They argue that the broader definition of "illegal public performance" could be interpreted in ways that specifically target their community and hinder their freedom of expression.
Moreover, LGBTQ civil rights groups have expressed concerns that the legislation may have unintended consequences, potentially enabling discriminatory practices against transgender people in Texas.
Advocates warn that the expanded definition could be used as a tool to unfairly target and marginalize individuals based on their gender identity, thereby infringing upon their civil liberties.