BREAKING: Human Rights Campaign Condemns North Dakota House for Advancing Bill Criminalizing Drag Performances

by HRC Staff

Bismarck, North Dakota – Today, the North Dakota House advanced H.B. 1133, an anti-LGBTQ+ bill that restricts drag performances. The bill would classify drag performances as “adult-oriented businesses'' and ban them from taking place on public property, as well as other locations where those under the age of 18 are present. If this bill becomes law, any individual who violates this discriminatory restriction would be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to 360 days in prison and a $3,000 fine. The bill, which passed by 79-13, will now be sent to the North Dakota Senate for consideration.

The dangerous practice of banning LGBTQ+ events, spaces, and culture – including drag performances – is part of a large-scale attack on the LGBTQ+ community and an attempt to put LGBTQ+ people, particularly transgender and non-binary people, back in the closet and labeled as dangerous.

Human Rights Campaign Legal Director Sarah Warbelow released the following statement:

“These legislators are clearly failing to understand that a drag performance at a bar for adults is very different from a drag story hour for families in an age-appropriate environment meant to foster creative validation and acceptance. These performances vary widely by audience, and while they’ve existed for decades in the face of hate, today’s move by lawmakers reflects the dangerous place to which extremism has led. Bills like these create more stigma, discrimination, and ultimately violence against LGBTQ+ people, particularly transgender and non-binary people. We urge members of the North Dakota Senate to focus on the real issues impacting North Dakotans by opposing this nakedly political attack on the LGBTQ+ community.”

HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow

In a coordinated push led by national anti-LGBTQ+ groups, which deployed vintage discriminatory tropes, politicians in state houses across the country introduced a record 315 discriminatory anti-LGBTQ+ bills in 2022. The majority of the discriminatory bills targeted the transgender and non-binary community, with the majority targeting children receiving the brunt of discriminatory legislation. Anti-transgender legislation took several forms, including bills aimed to prevent transgender youth from playing school sports consistent with their gender identity and bills to prevent transgender and non-binary youth from receiving life-saving, medically-necessary gender-affirming healthcare.

Nearly 1 in 5 of any type of hate crime is now motivated by anti-LGBTQ+ bias and the last two years have been the deadliest for transgender people, especially Black transgender women, we have seen since we began tracking fatal violence against the community. Reports of violence and intimidation against the LGBTQ+ community, such as the Club Q shooting that cost the lives of five people, have been making news across the country – with white nationalists targeting a Pride event in Idaho and Proud Boys crashing Drag Queen story hours at local libraries to shout homophobic and transphobic slurs. Finally, anti-LGBTQ+ stigma also drives alarmingly high rates of depression, anxiety and suicide. 45% of LGBTQ+ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, but LGBTQ+ youth who have at least one accepting adult in their life were 40% less likely to attempt suicide.

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