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‘Unconstitutional’ anti-drag bills would restrict musicals, panto and even Shakespeare

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A drag queen uses a yellow hand fan during a crowded Pride event

Republican Arizona lawmakers have proposed three anti-drag bills that would define all gender non-conforming performances as “adult content” – including musicals.

The three Senate bills were all introduced by Republican senator John Kavanagh after being prefiled on Friday (6 January).

Each relates specifically to drag performances and attempts to restrict public family-friendly drag shows in some capacity.

One of the bills, SB1026, would ban performances in which an individual or group “dress in clothing and makeup opposite of the performer’s or group of performers’ gender at birth” in a show for under-18s.

If passed, this would essentially mean that most pantomime performances, musicals, and even much of Shakespeare’s work would be deemed “adult-only” content.

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The second bill, SB1028, dictates that drag shows, which have been predefined as “adult cabaret performances”, may not take place on public property or a location that “could be viewed by a minor”.

It defines these performances as those which feature “topless dancers, go-go dancers, strippers”, and “drag performers”.

This means various other performances involving the use of “clothing and makeup opposite of the performer’s gender at birth” would only be permitted in “adult-oriented businesses and facilities”.

The third proposed law, SB1030, further cements the definition of drag as “adult content” with zoning ordinances that would force establishments that host drag shows to apply for “adult-oriented business manager permits”.

Senator John Kavanagh of Arizona, holds a cup of water while talking to a member of the crowd in frornt of an American flag.
Senator John Kavanagh was responsible for the proposal of all three bills in January. (Getty)

LGBTQ+ activists unanimously slammed the three bills as “insane” and “unconstitutional” for essentially imposing strict gendered roles on clothing without pretence as to what those would be.

“How do we even define ‘opposite gender clothes’ at this point? What constitutes exaggerated gender?” one user wrote. “How the heck would you be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that either of these things has happened?”

Another wrote: “This is ridiculous and it’s going to cause so much harm. Clothing doesn’t HAVE a gender.”

Senator Kavanagh proposes further anti-LGBTQ+ bills in Arizona

In a similar anti-LGBTQ+ proposal in December, Kavanagh also proposed a bill attempting to restrict trans students from using pronouns in Arizona schools.

The bill would prevent school faculty from addressing trans students with pronouns that “differ from the pronoun that aligns with the student’s biological sex”.

Despite the worrying set of anti-LGBTQ+ bills, it’s unlikely the legislation will pass through Arizona’s new governor Katie Hobbs, who has already expressed her pro-LGBTQ+ sentiments.

The Democratic governor spent her first day in office on Tuesday (3 January) extending employment protections to LGBTQ+ employees.

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