Kentucky Senate passes bill that would ban drag shows in public spaces

FILE - Drag performer Poly Tics, right, attends a rally in Frankfort, Ky., Thursday, March 2,...
FILE - Drag performer Poly Tics, right, attends a rally in Frankfort, Ky., Thursday, March 2, 2023. Republican lawmakers in Kentucky advanced a bill Friday, March 10, 2023, to put limits on drag shows, capping a free-wielding Senate debate as supporters touted it as a child-protection measure and opponents called it an unconstitutional attack aimed at LGTBQ groups. (AP Photo/Bruce Schreiner, File)(Bruce Schreiner | AP)
Published: Mar. 10, 2023 at 5:45 PM EST|Updated: Mar. 13, 2023 at 8:08 AM EDT
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WXIX) - A Kentucky Senate bill that would legally ban drag shows on public property and anywhere minors are present is now on its way to the House.

Senate Bill 115, an act relating to “adult-oriented businesses,” passed on a 26-6 vote Friday afternoon.

“This [S.B. 115] is out of love for children,” co-sponsor of the bill Sen. Gex Williams (R-Verona) told FOX19. “It wasn’t hatred for others.”

Opponents, such as Sen. Cassie Chambers Armstrong (D-Louisville), say the bill threatens the LGBTQ+ community and leads to more fear and misunderstanding.

“I do not disagree that sexually explicit activity shouldn’t happen in public places, and Mr. President, that is why we have numerous laws on the books that address such things, including our indecent exposure laws, including our regulations that govern sexually explicit performances and obscenity,” Sen. Armstrong said.

“[...] The only category of people specifically called out in this bill - the only thing that this bill adds to our existing laws are provisions about male or female impersonators, people who dress in drag.”

If the bill becomes law, it could force Kentucky cities, like Covington, to make changes to their annual Pride Parade or cancel performances at businesses like Hotel Covington and Braxton Brewery.

“It’s unclear to us how this legislation in its current form will affect the annual Pride Parade that courses through Covington’s downtown and the festival held in a City of Covington park,” Covington Mayor Joseph Meyer’s office said. “But we remain concerned. As the most diverse city in Northern Kentucky, we proudly welcome people of all races, ethnicities, gender identities and sexual orientation, and that includes people who express themselves through drag. In Covington, drag shows are part of our quirky, fun, and irreverent personality, and acceptance is part of our core identity. As our businesses have realized, being welcoming makes economic sense.”

The bill is now headed to the Kentucky House of Representatives. If it passes the House, it will be sent to Gov. Andy Beshear’s desk.

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