FACT CHECK: Does Florida Legislation Impose The Death Penalty For Admitting Children To Drag Shows?
A video shared on Instagram purports Florida legislation has defined drag as a sex crime against children, which is punishable by the death penalty.
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The video conflates S.B. 1438 and H.B. 1297, which can suspend or revoke the licenses of venues that admit children to an “adult live performance” and provides potential penalties, including death sentences, for individuals who commit sexual battery, respectively.
Drag queens protested against S.B. 1438, which is awaiting Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ signature, at the State Capitol Tuesday, according to ABC News. Darcel Stevens, a drag queen and LGBTQ+ activist who helped organize the protest, called the bill “cruel, unjust [and] full of hypocrisy,” The Hill reported.
The Instagram video claims the state’s legislature criminalized drag as a sex crime against minors. “The Florida legislature has defined drag as a sex crime against children, and in the same legislative breath, have decided that sex crimes against children are punishable by the death penalty and only by an 8-4 vote instead of unanimous decision,” the social media user purports.
The claim is misleading. The social media user appears to reference two separate pieces of legislation, S.B. 1438 and H.B. 1297. The Florida Senate bill gives the Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation the authority to revoke or suspend the license of any venue that admits children to an “adult live performance.” The bill defines “adult live performance” as any show performed in front of a live audience that simulates nudity or sexual conduct. The bill does not reference the death penalty at all.
Likewise, the Florida House Bill provides potential penalties, including death sentences, for individuals who commit sexual battery. The law describes sexual battery as a capital felony and applies to individuals 18 and older who “commit sexual battery [or who] injure the sexual organs of individuals less than 12 years old.”. The bill does not reference drag at all. (RELATED: Does Kansas House Bill 2238 Authorize ‘Genital Inspections Of Children?’)
In addition, there are no credible news reports indicating Florida legislation has defined drag as a sex crime against children or that the state has made drag punishable by the death penalty.
According to the Florida Senate’s website, S.B. 1438 passed the Senate on Apr. 11 and the House on Apr. 19. Similarly, H.B. 1297 passed the House on Apr. 13 and the Senate on Apr. 18. Neither bill has been signed into law.
Check Your Fact has contacted both bills’ sponsors and will update this piece accordingly if one is received.