A federal judge in Tennessee temporarily blocked a law that would have restricted drag performances in front of children from going into effect.
The restraining order was issued Friday, with the judge saying the legislation was likely “vague and overly-broad” in its restriction of speech. The bill would have otherwise gone into effect on Saturday.
Tennessee Republican Governor Bill Lee signed the bill in February after it passed through the state’s legislature. The measure was designed to restrict drag performances in public or in front of children, as conservatives across the country argue that the shows are inappropriate for younger audiences.
Lee previously said the law would protect children from potentially being exposed to “sexualized entertainment” or “obscenity.”
There have been GOP-led efforts to limit drag in at least 15 states in recent months.
The Memphis, Tennessee, judge sided with Friends of George’s, a Memphis-based LGBTQ+ theater group that filed a lawsuit against the state.
“At this point, the court finds that the statute is likely both vague and overly-broad,” U.S. District Judge Thomas Parker said in the ruling.
Parker, who former President Donald Trump appointed, said the state had not justified with a compelling interest the restrictions it intended to impose.
The debate about drag shows in Tennessee has largely centered on whether drag is inherently sexually explicit.
Performers and civil rights groups have criticized the proposed drag restrictions, arguing that such regulations are unconstitutional, redundant under existing obscenity laws and would lead to more harassment and violence against LGBTQ+ people.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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