TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A pride event in downtown Tampa was cancelled after a bill concerning “adult live performances” was signed into law Wednesday.
On Thursday, Tampa Pride President Carrie West confirmed that the organization will not host its Pride on the River event this year.
Gov. Ron DeSantis signed HB-1438, titled “Protection of Children,” into law in Tampa on Wednesday. The bill allows the state to “fine, suspend, or revoke the license of any public lodging establishment or public food service establishment if the establishment admits a child to an adult live performance.”
Lambda Legal, a leading national LGBTQ rights organization, called the legislation “an anti-drag bill seeking to censor art.”
“We receive this as it is intended, as an all-out attack on freedom,” Joe Saunders, Senior Political Director with Equality Florida, said in a news conference after Wednesday’s bill signing.
The advocacy organization said the package was the largest slate of anti-LGBTQ bills to be signed in a single legislative session in Florida’s history.
Drag performances are not mentioned in the bill, but a handout from the governor’s news conference Wednesday stated that drag shows are considered adult live performances “without serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value for the age of the child present,” according to the text of the bill.
The first Pride on the River event took place along the downtown Tampa Riverwalk last year. Organizers were concerned that they wouldn’t be able to restrict who sees the performances since the event takes place in such a large, open area. Rather than risk the licenses of participating businesses, organizers canceled the event altogether.
Tampa Pride Parade is still scheduled to take place next spring.