(LifeSiteNews) — The Arkansas Senate recently voted to label drag shows under “adult-oriented business,” a classification that protects minors from being exposed to the performances.
SB 43 was passed by the state Senate on January 24 despite opposition from all six Democrat lawmakers voting on the motion. It now continues to the Republican-led House for a final vote.
The purpose of the legislation is “to classify a drag performance as an adult-oriented business” and to establish “additional location restrictions to an adult-oriented business.”
Drag shows are defined in the bill as a performance that “exaggerates sexual aspects of the masculine or feminine body for entertainment purposes,” regardless of whether performers receive compensation. The classification of “adult-oriented business” was expanded from “an adult bookstore, an adult cabaret, an adult live entertainment establishment, an adult motion picture theater, an adult theater, a massage establishment that offers adult services, an escort agency, or a nude model studio” to include drag performances.
The bill also states that “an adult-oriented business shall not be located on public property or where a minor can view what the adult-oriented business is otherwise offering to the public.”
“An adult-oriented business shall not permit a minor to view material or entertainment that: Appeals to the prurient interest as applied to a minor; depicts sexual behavior in a way that is patently offensive under community standards as applied to a minor; and lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for minors.”
Republican Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders expressed her support of the proposal to a local news outlet, saying, “I think we have to do everything — I’ve been very clear and talked about this extensively — we can to protect children.”
“I think that’s what this bill does,” she added. “So I would be supportive of it in its current form and will continue to take steps and do things that I believe protect the children of Arkansas.”
Republican U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas celebrated the Senate’s approval of the bill, referring to it as “a model for the country.”
“I’m grateful my friends in the Arkansas legislature are protecting our children from vulgar drag shows,” Cotton said in a January 25 Twitter post. “These ‘performances’ should be classified as the adult entertainment they are, and they have no place in schools or libraries.”
I’m grateful my friends in the Arkansas legislature are protecting our children from vulgar drag shows.
These “performances” should be classified as the adult entertainment they are, and they have no place in schools or libraries.
Arkansas’s bill is a model for the country. pic.twitter.com/EjIMcdzvDI
— Tom Cotton (@TomCottonAR) January 25, 2023
Before Arkansas’ proposed restrictions on drag shows, other states introduced similar legislation to protect children from highly sexualized events. In June 2022, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that his team was considering legislation that would ban minors from attending drag shows throughout the state. Similarly, when a video of youths gathered at a homosexual bar in Dallas went viral, a Republican representative in Texas promised to prevent similar scandals from occurring in the future.
Tennessee introduced a bill in November that would prohibit sexualized “adult cabaret performances” from being held in places where they could be witnessed by minors. First offenses would qualify as misdemeanors and repeated violations would be a felony punishable by up to six years in prison.
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