Florida Pride parade cancelled due to state’s extreme anti-drag bill

Florida pride cancelled

A Florida Pride alliance has cancelled its Pride parade and restricted other Pride events to people over 21, in anticipation of Republican governor Ron DeSantis signing a far-reaching anti-drag bill into law.

On Wednesday (19 April), Florida’s House passed Senate Bill 1438 – also known as the Protection of Children law – which could mean that all Pride parades in the state are banned.

In a move that highlights the impact of the bill even before it has been signed into law, the Pride Alliance of the Treasure Coast cancelled their Pridefest event that was scheduled for this coming weekend.

The alliance posted on Facebook that the decision to cancel the event was made after “multiple meetings” with the Port St. Lucie officials.

“As all of you know, the political climate that we are currently in has us all very concerned for our community,” the post read.

“The city has decided that with the likelihood that the governor will sign the latest bill into effect this evening, that we will need to be on the side of caution and has required us to make this necessary change.

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“We are obviously upset and dishearten [sic] that it has come to this. We also regret to announce that we will have to cancel our plans to bring back our beloved parade.

“We hope that everyone understands that this is definitely not what we wanted at all and are working with the city to assure our safety as well as produce a positive event.”

The Pride Alliance of the Treasure Coast indicated that they would hold an event for LGBTQ+ youth so they can “celebrate who they are”.

Senate Bill 1438 defines ‘adult live performances’ as “any show, exhibition or other presentation in front of a live audience which depicts or simulates nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement, or specific sexual activities … lewd conduct, or the lewd exposure of prosthetic or imitation genitals or breasts” when there is no “value for the age of the child present”, or appeals to a “morbid interest” or is “patently offensive to prevailing standards in the adult community”.

Republican representative Randy Fine – who has promoted his wife’s ‘sultry’ burlesque performances at charity events that admit young people yet is supporting the bill – said he has seen photos and videos from past events that “would not be appropriate in front of this bill”.

He said those enforcing the law “would focus on the conduct of the folks in the parade … so it will be up to folks to make sure they follow the law”.

The restrictive bill would allow the state to revoke the food and drink licenses of venues that admit children to performances deemed “adult”, following DeSantis’ move to strip a hotel of its liquor license in March, after it hosted a drag show which allowed under-18s to attend.

The bill won’t only affect drag performances. Most pantomimes and various Shakespeare performances would become illegal at family-friendly venues. Live showings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show would also be banned.

In response to the bill, non-profit organisation Equality Florida tweeted: “SB 1438 has not yet been signed into law. But its bigoted effects are already being felt.

“Our resistance is needed now more than ever. Our visibility is needed. Drag art is needed. PRIDE is needed. It’s time to raise our flags higher than ever before.”

Republican governor Ron DeSantis is expected to sign the bill into law, which means it will come into effect immediately.

Pride festivals including St. Pete Pride in St. Petersbug – the state’s largest Pride event – could lose their permits.

Florida’s anti-drag bill is part of a wave of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation sweeping the US. In the first two months of 2023 alone, more anti-LGBTQ+ bills were filed across the United States than in the whole of 2022.