The City of St. George Is Being Sued By Drag Queens
The City of St. George is now entering the realm of legal battles over a drag show and just in time for Pride Month.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Utah is representing Southern Utah Drag Stars, a Tuesday ACLU press release said. Drag Stars is suing the city for denying a special events permit for a family-friendly drag show.
“The city’s refusal to grant a permit is part of a years-long effort to target drag performances and LGBTQ pride events in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments, as well as the Utah Constitution. “ACLU Press Release
Drag Stars member Mitski Avalox applied for a City of St. George special events permit on March 3 for the Allies & Community Drag Show Festival. The application was denied a few weeks later. It was denied on the basis that Avalox had breached the city's advertising ordinance which doesn’t allow for advertisement prior to a permit being handed out.
This is an “unenforceable” rule which also doesn’t work since most special events permit is usually granted the day prior or of the event, the press release said.
The permit denial was appealed by Drag Stars to the St. George City Council where a council member “acknowledged that advertising ban is not enforceable” however the permit was still denied.
During the time the permit was in limbo, the city decided not to consider any new special events permits for six months. The city left out “city-sponsored” events from that list.
“Requiring drag performers to meet unreasonable standards to receive a permit, or denying them these permits without legitimate justification, is censorship,” said Valentina De Fex, Senior Staff Attorney with the ACLU of Utah. “Our lawsuit challenges the attempt by elected officials, who must uphold the rights guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution and Utah State Constitution, to push subjective viewpoints of what they deem appropriate." Regarding the impact of this case, De Fex stated, "With this filing we continue our commitment to stop efforts to discriminate against and silence LGBTQ+ and gender-diverse individuals in Utah."
This is not the first time the City of St. George has received heat from discrimination accusations against the LGBTQ+ community. Just last year there was contention between community members and the St. George City Council over another family-friendly drag show.
The whole thing is available on the HBO show “We’re Here”.
““Drag is dance, fashion, and music - it is also deeply rooted in political speech - all protected by the First Amendment,” said Emerson Sykes, Senior Staff Attorney with the ACLU Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project. “This is the latest offense in a larger pattern of attacks discriminating against gender-diverse and LGBTQ+ people and their rights in Utah and throughout the country.”
The City of St. George told Townsquare Media that they have not yet been served but are aware of the situation. For now, there are no further comments.