Texas Republican wants 'bounty hunting' law that would target drag queensBY: Matthew Chapman
March 13, 2023
A Texas lawmaker wants to introduce a bill that would effectively allow bounty hunting [citival action with reward] against drag performers in the state, reported LGBTQ magazine The Advocate
Houston-area state Rep. Steve Toth filed the bill on Thursday. "According to the bill, 'An individual who attends a drag performance as a minor may bring an action against a person who knowingly promotes, conducts, or participates as a performer in the drag performance that occurs before an audience that includes the minor,'" the Advocate reported.
Under this law, attendees could sue for actual damages, attorney’s fees, and statutory damages of $5,000.
The bill is modeled after the infamous abortion bounty law that allows private individuals or groups to sue anyone who "facilitates" a woman procuring an abortion past six weeks of gestational age. Right-wing judges allowed this bill to take effect even before Roe v. Wade was overturned, making Texas the first state since the 1970s where abortion was effectively outlawed.
Over the past year, Republican politicians around the country have attacked drag performances, including those organized as explicitly child-friendly events for the purpose of exposing children to the concept of gender nonconformity and promote understanding from an early age.
"This election cycle, Republicans are positioning themselves as the defenders of 'parental rights,' which those on the right believe have been eroded by 'woke' ideology being pushed secretly by teachers and professionals who work with children," said the Advocate's report.
"However, this bill strips parents of the right to, for example, take their children to a family-friendly brunch hosted by a drag queen. 'It is not a defense to an action brought under this chapter that the minor was accompanied at the drag performance by the minor’s parent or guardian,' the bill states. The bill states that civil action can be brought up to ten years after the offending event."
Activists have warned this bill's language is so broad it could essentially ban any kind of public performance by a person dressed other than in clothing associated with their gender assigned at birth.
"For example, transgender rights activist and reporter Erin Reed points out that the bill could potentially bar Grammy-winning singer Kim Petras, the first out trans person to win the coveted award for best pop performance by a duo or group, from performing in Texas," said the report. "'These bounties can easily be turned against trans performers,' Reed wrote. 'It could ban a trans person singing karaoke. It could ban pride.'"
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