The Texas legislature passed a bill on Sunday that bans sexual conduct from public performances in the state, a move initially motivated by fears surrounding children viewing drag shows.
Senate Bill (SB) 12 focuses on banning “sexually oriented performances” in public when it is reasonable that a child could see the acts or in the presence of anyone under the age of 18. Prohibited sexual conduct in these public performances includes actual or simulated sex acts, showing genitals in a “lewd state” and the use of accessories to exaggerate sexual attributes.
A previous version of the bill classified drag shows as sexually-oriented performances and was subject to criticism from state house Democrats who said the bill targeted LGBTQ people.
Would-be violators face a Class A misdemeanor charge, which carries a penalty of up to one year in jail or a fine of up to $4,000. The bill also includes a $10,000 civil penalty for each violation.
Texas State Senator and author of the bill Bryan Hughes celebrated its passage, stating “Our bill protecting children from sexually explicit drag shows is officially headed to the Governor’s desk.”
Both the Texas House and Senate passed the measure on the same day. The bill passed the House by a vote of 87 to 54. Texas Governor Greg Abbott will now decide whether to sign the bill into law.
Recently, drag performers in Utah sued one of its cities for infringing their freedom of speech after they were denied a permit for an all-ages drag show in a public park.