Press Release • April 18, 2023

Equality NC Calls Out Drag Ban Added to Slate of Anti-LGBTQ+ Legislation

For Immediate Release

Alainna Liloia | Equality NC |

RALEIGH – Today, while trans sports ban SB 631 was being heard in committee, NC lawmakers filed HB 673, a drag ban that would make drag performances illegal on public property or in the presence of anyone under the age of 18. Violation of this law would be considered a misdemeanor, and in the case of a second offense, a felony.

The bill joins a slew of other anti-LGBTQ+ bills currently in the legislature and a few more filed today, including two more gender-affirming care bans (HB 808, HB 786) and another license to discriminate in healthcare (HB 819). In the latest push to erase LGBTQ+ expression, legislators across the country are introducing bills to ban or restrict drag performances. This year, lawmakers already introduced over 30 anti-drag bills. Drag bans are a violation of our first amendment rights to freedom of speech and freedom of expression.

The criminalization of drag is especially dangerous in our current cultural context. Over the past year, the far-right extremist group the Proud Boys have increasingly targeted the LGBTQ+ community, protesting drag shows, nightclubs, and public events put on by the queer community. In Moore County and across the country, extremists have targeted drag performances with protests and threats of violence. According to a 2022 GLAAD report, North Carolina and Texas were at the top of the list of states with the most attacks on drag events, with 10 attacks in North Carolina. Anti-drag bills will only further embolden the far-right in their attacks.

Drag performances are an important part of queer culture and a form of art expression. Drag bans are yet another strategy to restrict gender and gender expression and legislate LGBTQ+ people out of existence. With the onslaught of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation and two trans sports bans being heard in the legislature tomorrow, we urge you to take a stand against this harmful legislation.

ENC Executive Director Kendra R. Johnson (she/her) said:

HB 673 is a discriminatory and undemocratic attack on our most fundamental rights. Attacks on drag shows aim to stop LGBTQ+ people from being who we are and expressing ourselves freely. Drag bans are part of broader attacks on queer and transgender people, alongside coordinated efforts to police gender expression. Drag performances are one of many diverse art forms that the LGBTQ+ community has contributed to American culture, and this form of expression should be protected under the First Amendment.

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Equality North Carolina builds LGBTQ+ power through advocacy, education, and uplifting the stories of queer and trans North Carolinians in pursuit of racial and social justice.

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