The state of Tennessee became this Thursday the first US territory to ban drag queen performances in public and in places where they can be seen by minors.
American conservatives on the front lines of the “culture wars” that have gripped the country on issues of gender and educationthey have entered a new battlefield: drag shows, which they consider too sexualized.
Their battle is being fought on the legislative front, but also in demonstrations, sometimes violent.
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Tennessee became the first state in the North American country to ban drag queen shows to the public. Violators could face $2,500 fines and up to a year in jail.
This regulation, which will go into effect on July 1, is the first of dozens of initiatives of this type introduced by Republican legislators in various states of the country that have managed to become law.
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Republicans argue that with drag performances minors are left exposed to sexual shows and images that are not appropriate for them.
A legislative campaign of several states of the country
Local Republican Senator Jack Johnson, sponsor of the bill, swears that his only purpose is to “protect” the youngest.
“Some shows, movies and places are not intended for children,” he said in a statement.
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This is the first law of this Republican crackdown on drag shows finally get approved. But it probably won’t be the last.
Texas, Kansas or Arizona… in more than a dozen states, legislators have proposed similar texts.
The governor of Tennessee, Bill Lee, signed another regulation related to the previous one that will prevent minors from accessing gender affirming drugs or surgeriesas states like Florida or Alabama already do.
Minors who are currently under this type of treatment have until March 21, 2024 to complete it, after the law takes effect on July 31.
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Under Lee’s signature, Tennessee is the eighth state to pass such a regulation, and the fourth to do so this year.
This Wednesday, the governor of Mississippi, also a Republican Tate Reeves, signed legislation to veto the access of minors to gender-affirming treatments.
LGBT organizations denounce ‘large-scale attack’
In a statement, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) said Thursday that “the dangerous practice” of banning LGTBIQ+ events, spaces and culturewhich includes drag performances, is part of “a full-scale attack” on the collective and is an attempt to put its members back in the closet.
According to data from that organization, only last year legislators from state congresses throughout the country presented 315 “discriminatory” bills against LGTBIQ+of which 29 were approved becoming law.
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Most of those drafts – 149 – were targeted “the transgender and non-binary community”, in addition to young people.
HRC added that in the first two months of 2023 there have been 340 anti-LGBTBIQ+ state legislative proposals, of which 150 would restrict the rights of transgender people, which is the largest number of initiatives against “trans” individuals in a single year, and it is still not over
Violent actions against the queer community
Opposition to drag shows sometimes takes a violent turn. In 2022, the LGBTIQ+ rights organization GLAAD registered 141 protests or threats against drag shows.
The far-right group “Proud Boys” regularly attack these eventseven sending armed protesters to intimidate bystanders, as happened in Ohio in December.
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In mid-February, hooded members of the group shouted homophobic slurs parents walking into a suburban Washington library, according to the media.
In New York, San Francisco and Texas the same scenes are repeated. And, in response, counter-demonstrations are becoming more widespread.
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In Washington last weekend, protesters with rainbow umbrellas lined up outside a library, forming a colorful line to protect the participants who had come to listen to the drag queens.
Equipped with speakers, they played Disney hits “The Lion King” and “Enchantment.” It was a way of reminding them that, for them, These acts must remain, above all, a child’s thing.
Santiago Andres Venera Salazar
With information from AFP and EFE
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