A federal judge has temporarily blocked city officials in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, from enforcing an ordinance designed to prohibit drag shows from being held in public areas.
The order, issued Friday by U.S. District Court Chief Judge Waverly Crenshaw Jr., prohibits the city from enforcing the rule during the city’s scheduled Pride festival next weekend.
The decision came after the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee filed a lawsuit on behalf of the organization organizing the festival.
The legal challenge is the latest in the ongoing political battle over LGBTQ rights in Tennessee and across the country. Conservative activists argued that the 2022 drag performance during the festival “sexualized children,” according to the Associated Press.
Organizers denied the claims, arguing that the performers were fully clothed.
“We are relieved that the court has taken action to ensure that Murfreesboro’s discriminatory ordinance does not apply during the BoroPride festival,” said Chis Sanders, executive director of the Tennessee Equality Project, in a statement via the ACLU of Tennessee. “We look forward to a safe and joyful celebration of Murfreesboro’s LGBTQ+ community.”
The ACLU praised the decision and said the festival aims to create a “safe space” for free speech and “cultivate community, solidarity and joy among members of the LGBTQ+ community.”
“LGBTQ+ people should not have to live in fear of being attacked by their local elected officials and we will continue to protect this space and the free speech rights of Murfreesboro residents until this ordinance is permanently repealed,” the organization wrote in the notice. .
Tennessee State Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson (R) introduced legislation last year That would prevent “male or female impersonators” and exotic dancers from operating near a minor.
The Voluntary State became the first state to enact a law explicitly targeting drag shows in March, when Gov. Bill Lee (R) signed Johnson’s bill into law. However, a federal judge ruled in June that the law was unconstitutionaltoo vague and violated the protection of freedom of expression.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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