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Arkansas governor signs restrictions on ‘adult’ performances

February 24, 2023 GMT

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed into law new restrictions on “adult-oriented” performances Friday in a bill that originally targeted drag shows but was scaled back following complaints it discriminated against the LGBTQ community.

The bill signed by the Republican governor restricts performances that include performers who are nude or semi-nude and purposely exposing a specific anatomical area, prosthetic breasts or genitalia. To meet the definition, the performance must feature real or simulated sexual activities and be intended to appeal to “prurient” interests, a term that’s not defined in the legislation.

The performances would be banned from public property, being paid for with public funds and allowing minors to attend.

The original version of the legislation would have classified drag shows as adult-oriented businesses, the same category as adult theaters and strip clubs, which would have banned them from being within 1,000 feet (305 meters) of public schools, churches and libraries. The final bill signed by Sanders doesn’t mention drag shows or gender identity, easing some of the concerns from opponents.

But opponents have said the new restrictions are still too vaguely worded and unnecessary.

Arkansas is one of several states where Republican lawmakers have proposed restrictions on drag shows in recent months.