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Protest to be held against Florida law LGBTQ advocates say targets drag shows

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(TALLHASSEE, Fla.) — Hundreds of drag queens and allies are expected to march Tuesday in protest of recent legislation that organizers say is attacking the LGBTQ community.

The rally is expected to draw advocates statewide in Tallahassee Tuesday afternoon for a march to the state Capitol, where speakers are scheduled to include state Sen. Linda Stewart and Sen. Shevrin Jones and state Rep. Anna Eskamani, among others, organizers said.

The march comes nearly a week after the Republican-led state legislature passed a bill banning children from adult live performances, which LGBTQ advocates say targets drag shows.

“Drag Queens are not just entertainers, we’re valued contributors to society — small business owners, parents, teachers, nurses, first responders and much more. Floridians know we pose no threat,” Darcel Stevens, a drag queen activist from Orlando who organized Tuesday’s protest, said in a statement.

“That’s why we’re united here using our powerful collective voices to encourage political activism, register voters, and resist policies that harm us and the brothers and sisters in our LGBTQIA+ community” Stevens continued. “We are not going anywhere, we will not be silent, we will rise up and we will fight back.”

SB 1438, known as the Protection of Children Act, would allow the state to fine, suspend or revoke the food and beverage licenses of businesses that admit children to any “adult live performance.” The bill defines this as “any exhibition, or other presentation in front of a live audience” that “depicts or simulates nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement, or specific sexual activities” or other “lewd conduct.”

“Anything from local brunches, theatrical productions such as Shakespeare or the Mrs. Doubtfire musical, to major concerts featuring performers like Madonna or Sam Smith could all be canceled by venues who fear elements of Drag will be in violation of the law,” Equality Florida said in a press release on the event.

The law, which is awaiting Gov. Ron DeSantis’ signature, comes after his administration moved to revoke the liquor license of a Miami hotel that hosted a Christmas drag show.

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