LGBTQNews & Opinion

New Bill Restricting Drag Performances Introduced in Raleigh

Drag performers could be charged with a felony under newly proposed law

Brandon Hilton applies lipstick in the mirror as drag queen Onya Mann.
Drag performers like Brandon Hilton, pictured here as Onya Mann, could face new restrictions if a newly introduced bill were to become law. (Photo by Laurence Logan)

Republican lawmakers in the North Carolina House of Representatives introduced House Bill 673 on Tuesday, clarifying the regulations on adult entertainment in N.C. The bill has been compared to one signed into law in Tennessee in March that bans drag performances in the state.

The North Carolina bill states it will be “unlawful for a person to engage in adult live entertainment on public property or in a location where the adult live entertainment is in the presence of an individual under the age of 18.” 

While laws had already been in place in regard to topless dancers, exotic dancers and strippers, the newly filed amendment restricts “male or female impersonators who provide entertainment that appeals to a prurient interest.”

This means that certain interpretations of this bill would not allow for drag performances to happen on public property, especially if children are present. Drag performances have become common occurrences around the country at public institutions like libraries, including storytelling events for children.

If passed, the law would make first-time violators guilty of a Class A1 misdemeanor while second and subsequent violators will be guilty of a Class I felony.

The bill has four primary sponsors, all Republicans: Reps. Jeff Zenger and Donny Lambeth, both of Forsyth County; Mark Pless of western North Carolina; and Donnie Loftis of Gaston County,

This bill is being introduced at the same time Senate Bill 631 is being heard in committee — a bill that would ban participation in sports by people that identify as a gender separate from their biological sex assigned at birth. The bill states that “a student’s sex shall be recognized based solely on the student’s reproductive biology and genetics at birth.”

Two anti-trans bills were introduced in North Carolina on Feb 1, both targeting transgender youth. Senate Bill 49 would require teachers to inform a child’s parent should the child want to change their name or pronouns and ban discussion on gender identity and sexuality in K-4 curriculum, while House Bill 43 would ban gender-affirming health care for trans youth.

“This is a clear violation of our first amendment rights to freedom of speech and freedom of expression and another attempt to remove queer and trans people from public life. Drag is an art form, not a crime. We unequivocally condemn this legislation,” stated Equality NC in a tweet on Tuesday morning, in response to the introduction of HB 673. 

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