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Concerns over 'Protection of Children Act' impacting LGBTQ+ community

Posted at 7:38 PM, Apr 05, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-06 00:14:54-04

TALLAHASSEE, FL (WTXL) — The Protection of Children Act, also known as HB 1423 and its senate counterpart, SB 1438, would punish businesses for allowing children to attend what they're calling "adult live performances."

Some locals, like theater performer Terry Galloway, said they are worried that this bill will harm the LGBTQ+ and theater community.

"What kind of government is it that makes its citizens feel afraid?" Galloway said. "You know, I have felt nothing but afraid since this has happened."

Galloway said she is afraid that the theater she performs at in Tallahassee could be slapped with fines or worse if HB 1423 becomes a law.

Under the proposed bill, businesses could be fined if they allow children to see performances that depict or simulate nudity, sexual conduct or sexual excitement.

Penalties range from $5,000 fine, a business losing its ability to serve alcohol or even misdemeanor charges.

The bill's sponsor, Representative Randy Fine, said he was inspired to draft this bill after a pride parade in his district THAT HAD what he called inappropriate sexual performances for children.

But he said his bill is not targeting the LGBTQ+ community specifically.

"Could you have a gay pride parade that doesn't target children? Absolutely. I wouldn't go myself, but I have no issue with this happening," Fine said. "But what this bill is going to make clear is that sexual conduct of any kind needs to be kept away from children."

The bill's senate counterpart, SB 1438, was amended to prohibit adult live performances in public.

With PRIDEFEST on April 15, the event's organizer Tallahassee Pride sent me this statement saying in part "...The language is written broadly and threatens entities with excessive fines and misdemeanor charges with the intention of sparking fear and intimidation that will lead to self-censorship. Tallahassee Pride rejects these politically-motivated efforts to marginalize our community and looks forward to hosting a beautiful, welcoming celebration on April 15th."

While there are concerns for what the future of these events will look like, Fine says this bill would not shutdown pride festivals or parades, as long as they are for adults.

"This bill has nothing to do with any pride performances you want to do for adults, just keep it away from the kids," Fine said.

Both this bill and the senate version have not yet made it off their respective floors.
There still is some ways to go before either could end up on the governor's desk.