Democrat counters Republican attacks on drag queens with call for ban on church youth camps

Nebraska state senator Megan Hunt.

Democratic Nebraska state senator Megan Hunt has proposed an amendment to a homophobic, anti-drag bill which would ban church youth camps or, as she puts it, “religious indoctrination camps”.

She says it’s been done simply to “make a point” about the absurdity of continuous attempts by Republican lawmakers in the US to impose cruel restrictions on LGBTQ+ people.

The Democrat has already admitted she proposed the amendment in the belief that the bill would not be passed.

On Twitter she wrote: “This is an amendment that I will use to make a point about the underlying bill, LB371, which bans all-ages drag shows. 

“It won’t pass, I would withdraw it if it had the votes to pass. It’s a device to make a point. We need not clench nor worry.”

In her proposal, she calls out the “sexual abuse perpetrated by religious leaders” at such camps, saying “abusers within churches” use them to gain the trust of victims.

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Hunt’s proposed amendment to the bill – which bans anyone under 19 from attending drag shows –suggested banning “religious indoctrination camps” and issuing a $10,000 fine to any organisation hosting an event for under 19s.

The penalty is the same fine the original bill (lLB371), which was proposed at the start of 2023, sets for establishments hosting drag shows and allowing under 19s to attend. 

‘Sexual abuse perpetrated by religious leaders’

But Hunt goes further by defining the camps as: “A camp, vacation bible study, retreat, lock-in, or convention held by a church, youth group, or religious organisation for the purpose of indoctrinating children with a specific set of religious beliefs.”

The amendment states: “The legislature finds that there is a well documented history of indoctrination and sexual abuse perpetrated by religious leaders and clergy people upon children. 

“Abusers within churches and other religious institutions often use events like church or youth-group-sponsored camps and retreats to earn children’s trust and gain unsupervised access to such children in order to commit such abuse.”

Following the original bill being proposed the legal and policy counsel for the ACLU of Nebraska, Jane Seu, said it was “an unconstitutional attempt rooted in a coordinated national effort to push LGBTQ+ people out of public life”.

Anti-LGBTQ+ bills plague the US in 2023

ILB371 is one more than 100 anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced across the US since the start of 2023 – most of which target drag performances or trans rights.

A large portion of bills attempt to define drag as “adult entertainment,” with some essentially seeking to ban musicals and parts of Shakespeare as a result of their definitions of drag.

In Arkansas, Senate Bill 43 (SB43) passed in a shocking 29-6 vote on 24 January after its introduction by Republican lawmakers earlier this month.

The dangerous bill, headed by Senator Gary Stubblefield, aims to prevent drag shows from being performed in public by defining them as “adult-live entertainment” on par with stripping or pornography.

Such rife hate against the LGBTQ+ community has been linked to far-right campaigns that include branding drag queens “groomers”.

The co-owner of Colorado LGBTQ+ venue, Club Q, where five people were murdered in a gun attack, said homophobic slurs have “created a new type of hate”.

Nic Grzecka said slurs such as “groomer” have created an atmosphere of hate where “it’s different to walk down the street” in a Wednesday (25 November) interview with Associated Press.

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