DeSantis Attempts to Revoke Orlando Philharmonic Liquor License Over Drag Show

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has filed a complaint against the Orlando Philharmonic Plaza Foundation alleging the nonprofit group performed a sexually explicit drag performance in December in the presence of minors.

He complaintfiled Friday through the Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s Division of Spirits and Tobacco and shared with NBC News, alleges the foundation violated Florida statutes on lewdness and keeping a public nuisance and seeks to revoke its liquor license. .

The complaint is at least the second the DeSantis administration has filed against a venue for hosting a drag performance in the presence of minors. In July, his administration filed a similar complaint against Miami’s R House restaurant, citing a 1947 state Supreme Court case that found that «men posing as women» in the context of «suggestive and indecent» performances constituted a nuisance. public.

The administration cited the same decades-old case in its complaint against the foundation, arguing that it is «operating and maintaining a nuisance» that harms «the health of citizens generally» or corrupts «public morals.»

The DeSantis administration announced on December 27, the day before the foundation show, that it was investigating the performance. after receiving “multiple complaints,” according to Bryan Griffin, the governor’s press secretary.

The administrative complaint says the foundation, which owns and operates The Plaza Live theater and supports the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra, announced «A Drag Queen Christmas,» a performance held at the theater with a Christmas theme and welcoming for all ages.

The Plaza Live theater in Orlando, Florida. Google

The department said in its complaint that it sent a letter to the foundation before the show notifying it that «sexually explicit drag performances constitute public nuisance, lewd activity, and disorderly conduct when minors attend» and, if the foundation does not minors are not prohibited from entering the show, The Plaza Live could lose its license to sell alcoholic beverages.

Despite the warning, the complaint says, the foundation allowed minors to attend and posted a sign outside the entrance that read: «While we are not restricting access to those under 18, please note that some may think the Content is not appropriate for children under 18 years of age. ”

According to the complaint, the show featured «acts of sexual conduct,» simulated sexual activity, and «lewd» displays, including performers intentionally exposing prosthetic female breasts and prosthetic genitalia to the audience. The show also included «sexualized adaptations» of popular Christmas songs, such as «Screwdolph the Red-Nippled Reindeer,» the complaint alleges.

The complaint claims the foundation violated six Florida statutes by allowing minors to attend the show.

The Orlando Philharmonic Plaza Foundation did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but its board of directors he told the Orlando Sentinel that The Plaza Live has hosted drag performances for eight years, adding that the venue is a «welcoming and inclusive establishment that operates in good faith and complies with all applicable laws.»

“That includes respecting the rights of parents to decide what content is or is not appropriate for their own children,” the statement said, according to the Sentinel. “We have just learned of this administrative complaint and are working with our legal team to assess and respond appropriately.”

DeSantis’s complaint against the foundation is part of a growing campaign against drag shows. In June, for example, former state House representative Anthony Sabatini urged the governor to carry out an emergency special legislative session to consider legislation that would make it a crime for parents to bring their children to drag shows. That same month, when asked by a reporter if he would support such legislation, DeSantis noted that the state has child protection statutes «on the books.»

“We have laws against endangering children,” he said. “It used to be that children would be off limits. Everybody used to agree with that. Now it seems that there is a concerted effort to expose children more and more to things that are not appropriate for their age.

The governor’s efforts are part of a national backlash against LGBTQ rights and drag in general. Nationwide, state lawmakers have introduced at least 200 bills targeting LGBTQ people, according to an NBC News analysis.

At least 13 states have considered bills that would redefine any venue that hosts drag performances as a adult oriented business or cabaret; Some of the bills, including two in West Virginia, would also make it a crime for a person who dresses as a different sex than the one assigned at birth to perform in front of minors.

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