Arkansas bill would classify drag show as adult-oriented business, adds location restrictions

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KARK) – A bill filed Monday in the Arkansas Senate would define a drag performance as an adult-oriented business and place restrictions on where they could take place.

Senate Bill 43, sponsored by Arkansas Sen. Gary Stubblefield and Rep. Mary Bentley, adds “drag performance” to the list of adult-oriented businesses in the state’s code, which includes adult cabarets, adult theatres or nude model studios.

The bill goes on to define a drag performance as something where a performer “exhibits a gender identity that is different from the performer’s gender assigned at birth using clothing, makeup, or other accessories that are traditionally worn by members of and are meant to exaggerate the gender identity of the performer’s opposite sex.”

The performer would be someone before an audience of two or more, and “is intended to appeal to the prurient interests.” Webster’s New World College Dictionary defines “prurient” as “having or expressing lustful ideas or desires,” or “tending to excite lust; lascivious; lewd.”

The bill also states that no adult-oriented business may be located on public property or where a minor can view it.

In previous legislative sessions, Arkansas has made national headlines for legislation seeming to target the trans community.

In the 2021 session, Arkansas made news for a bill, which passed over the governor’s veto, creating a first-in-the-nation law denying gender-affirming care for minors. A lawsuit filed in opposition to the law is currently before the trial judge for a decision.

That session also saw a bill to prevent trans girls from participating in girls’ youth sports. Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed the bill into law in March 2021.

After being introduced Monday, the bill was referred to the City, County & Local Affairs Committee.

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