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Ohio Bill Seeks to Ban Drag Shows, Proposes Crimes for ‘Obscene’ Performances

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Ohio Republicans have introduced a bill banning ‘harmful’ drag shows – and proposing felonies for ‘obscene’ performances.

Representatives Josh Williams and Angela King introduced House Bill 245 on Monday, which would ban “adult cabaret performances” because they are “harmful to minors” because they display “performers who exhibit a gender identity different from the performers or performers assigned at birth.”

Drag shows would be banned from all places outside of adult cabaret venues, meaning nightclubs, restaurants and the like cannot host shows.

Williams and King’s bill garnered the support of 41 of the state’s 67 House Republicans.

If passed, House Bill 245 would classify drag performances as a misdemeanor if a minor is present, a fifth degree felony if the performance is “obscene” and a fourth degree felony if it is “obscene” and in front of a minor under 13.

Although it specifically targets drag performances, Williams insisted the bill was not intended to disband the shows, but to ban performances “harmful to minors.”

Drag shows could be banned in Ohio at all locations outside of adult cabarets, meaning nightclubs, restaurants and the like can’t hold shows if the bill passes.
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Representative Angela King.
Representative Angela King, who co-signed House Bill 245, which seeks to ban drag shows because they are “harmful to minors”.
Ohio House of Representatives

“We’re saying, listen, we want equality for everyone, we want everyone treated the same in the state of Ohio, including our artists,” he said. “You’re going to be held to the same standard, which is not to engage in lewd conduct in the presence of a minor.

“The type of dancing, the type of attire that we would typically see in a grown men’s club where only adults are allowed, we’re starting to see that in places where minors are present.”

Corey Williams, who has been dragging in central Ohio for nearly 25 years, has yet to witness a “lewd” drag performance and has never seen anyone call one of his shows uncomfortable, he told NBC 4.


Representatives Josh Williams
Although it specifically targets drag performances, Rep. Josh Williams insisted the bill was not intended to disband the shows, but to ban performances “harmful to minors”.
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Corey Williams in drag.
Corey Williams, who has been dragging in central Ohio for nearly 25 years, said he has yet to witness a “lewd” drag performance.
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“As a drag performer, there’s nothing 100% sexy about me, there’s 14 layers of clothes on me to create the body, so they’re trying to sexualize something that’s not sexual,” he told the station.

“It’s insane, to inflict such severe punishment on someone’s art when there are people out there hurting children and creating differences and hurt.”

The bill was modeled after Tennessee’s proposed ban, which was temporarily blocked by a federal judge. District Judge Thomas Parker ruled that the state’s bill was “unconstitutionally vague and substantially overbroad.”

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