Bill criminalizing public drag, cabaret performances heads to subcommittees

Posted at 10:02 AM, Jan 31, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-31 13:15:40-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Lawmakers in both the state House and Senate will take up a bill that some say infringes on the constitutional rights of some performers.

The bill was filed by Republican lawmakers in November, and targets both drag and cabaret performers. It focuses on if kids are able to see these performances.

"This bill creates an offense for a person who engages in an adult cabaret performance on public property or in a location where the adult cabaret performance could be viewed by a person who is not an adult," the bill's summary reads.

It would ban both adult cabaret performances and drag shows in public places.

The bill defines such shows as performances in a location other than an adult cabaret that features topless dancers, go-go dancers, exotic dancers, strippers, male or female impersonators who provide entertainment that appeals to a "prurient interest."

According to State Sen. Jack Johnson, R-Franklin, there were inappropriate performances in public which sparked the bill.

Performers who could be impacted by this legislation told NewsChannel 5 that they have a variety of acts with some they called perfectly appropriate.

Opponents of the legislation call it extremely hurtful, saying it would devastate pride and pride parades. If this passes, performers could be charged with a misdemeanor. The second offense is a felony.

If this bill becomes law, it would go into effect this July 1.