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Judge temporarily blocks Tennessee city’s ordinance banning drag shows on public property

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A federal judge has temporarily blocked a Tennessee city from enforcing an ordinance banning drag shows on public property during an upcoming Pride festival.

Chief U.S. District Court Judge Waverly Crenshaw Jr. ruled in an order issued Friday that officials in Murfreesboro, Tenn., are prohibited from enforcing the order during the planned BoroPride festival next weekend.

The order follows a lawsuit filed earlier this month by the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee on behalf of a nonprofit group that advocates for LGBTQ+ rights called the Tennessee Equality Project, which hosts the BoroPride Festival since 2016.

The city of Murfreesboro and the Equality Project have reached an agreement that the city will not enforce the ordinance during the Pride Festival on Oct. 28, the ordinance states.

ACLU challenges Tennessee city’s ban on drag performances with federal lawsuit

A federal judge has temporarily blocked a Tennessee city from enforcing an ordinance banning drag shows on public property. (AP Photo/Bruce Schreiner)

The lawsuit claims the ordinance discriminates against the LGBTQ+ community and violates free speech protections afforded by the First Amendment.

The ACLU says the ordinance “confirms that the community’s free speech rights will be protected during the BoroPride festival” as litigation over the city ordinance continues.

“We are relieved that the court has taken steps to ensure that Murfreesboro’s discriminatory ordinance will not be enforced during the BoroPride festival,” Chris Sanders, executive director of the Tennessee Equality Project, said in a statement. “We look forward to a safe and joyful celebration of Murfreesboro’s LGBTQ+ community.”

The lawsuit is the latest effort to challenge state proposals to limit drag shows in public places where children may be present, with Republican lawmakers saying such shows are inappropriate for younger audiences.

TENNESSEE LAW RESTRICTING DRAG SHOWS “UNCONSTITUTIONALLY VAGUE,” FEDERAL JUDGE RULES

Drag Shows

The lawsuit is the latest attempt to challenge Republican-led state proposals to limit drag shows in public places where children may be present. (AP Photo/John Raoux, file)

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Conservative activists have said drag performances at the 2022 Pride event have led to the “sexualization of children”. The Equality Project says the performers were fully clothed and has denied accusations that the shows were inappropriate for children.

The city warned the Equality Project that it would deny any future event permits and subsequently approved updating its “community decency standards” designed to “help determine conduct, materials and events which may be judged as obscene or harmful to minors.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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