Montana lawmakers have passed a bill attempting to ban drag shows from taking place in public places across the state.

HB359, which is headed to the desk of Republican Governor Greg Gianforte where it will either be signed into law or vetoed, originally mentioned “drag shows” explicitly.

Its current version instead loosely defines drag performances as “adult-oriented shows” that are “intended to appeal to a prurient interest in sex and features”.

It fails to acknowledge the breadth of drag that exists and the fact that performances can be amended to make them suitable for all audiences.

The bill prohibits Drag Story Hour from taking place in schools and libraries that receive public funding, instead limiting drag to what it calls “adult-oriented businesses” such as nightclubs and bars.

Drag performances will not be allowed to take place anywhere “on public property where children are present” and some LGBTQ+ activists fear HB359 could be used to target trans people who do not present as the sex they were assigned at birth. 

READ MORE: Drag is under attack – but these queens aren’t backing down anytime soon

Businesses found to be in violation of the law will be fined between $1,000 and $5,000 for their first offence, between $2,500 and $5,000 for the second and $10,000 for the third.

They also face the risk of having their business licence revoked if they breach the legislation.

“Drag performances have been part of mainstream entertainment for a long time,” said Sarah Warbelow, legal director at the Human Rights Campaign, when the first draft of the bill passed back in February.

“It is pathetic that extremist politicians are now targeting drag performances as a way to attack the LGBTQ+ community, instead of working on crafting real solutions to the problems facing Montana families today.

“If they are hoping to score political points with this latest anti-LGBTQ+ attack, they will surely fail.”

Hundreds recently protested against Florida’s proposed drag ban

Drag Race stars Detox and Roxxxy Andrews were among the many drag performers and allies who recently demonstrated against Florida’s proposed restrictions on drag.

Hundreds protested peacefully at the state’s Capitol building in Tallahassee on 25 April after lawmakers passed the Protection of Children Act (Senate Bill 1348).

Just like the bill that recently passed in Tennessee, its wording is vague and would see children banned from attending what is broadly referred to as “adult live performances”.

READ MORE: Montana Republicans ban trans lawmaker Zooey Zephyr from House floor

Such ambiguity has resulted in many fearing the law could be used as a way to target drag shows in Florida.

In response to this bill, as well as the many other anti-LGBTQ+ pieces of legislation introduced in the state, more than 300 protestors wore red shirts with the phrase “the show must go on” branded on them.