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Tampa Pride event cancelled over Ron DeSantis’ latest anti-LGBT+ laws

DeSantis Legislation (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

A signature pride event in Tampa has been cancelled in the wake of the latest anti-LGBTQ+ legislation signed into law by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

Organizers confirmed on Thursday (18 May) that this year’s Tampa Pride on the River will not take place as a result of the heated political climate in the Sunshine State.

The announcement came a day after Gov DeSantis signed several bills that banned gender-affirming care for minors, restricted pronoun use in schools and forced individuals to use restrooms corresponding with their biological sex — an expansion to the “Don’t Say Gay” bill enacted into law last year.

Tampa Pride President Carrie West told NBC affiliate WFLA the event, which is held every September along the riverwalk, had to be cancelled out of concern that its “drag brunches” would be in violation of the new laws.

“Really, I’m sorry,” Ms West said in an interview with the station. “I’m sorry that this has happened, but you are going to be the generation to make the change.”

The most recent legislation does not explicitly prohibit drag shows but was advanced amid Mr DeSantis’ choice to file a complaint against a hotel in Miami for hosting a “Drag Queen Christmas” that he alleged had children in attendance.

The bill also bans organizers from inviting children to “adult performances,” with no elaboration on what the legislation considers those to be.

Tampa Pride on the River usually attracts more than 20,000 people, according to WTSP. Because there is no fencing at the event, there is no way to stop anybody from seeing it.

Businesses that are found to have violated the law could have their licenses revoked.

“Very sad,” Ms West told WFLA. “Because this was a very fun event. People already, they’ve been talking about it, they’ve been making plans to come to Tampa, fly to Tampa, drive to Tampa.”

Mr DeSantis chose a Christian school in Tampa as his setting for signing the series of legislation. Several LGBTQ+ rallies were held at the Capitol after the House approved the bill expansion before the session that ended two weeks ago, according to the Associated Press.

“It’s kind of sad that we even have some of these discussions,” Mr DeSantis told the crowd during the ceremony on Wednesday (17 May).

“We never did this through all of human history until like, what, two weeks ago? Now this is something? They’re having third graders declare pronouns? We’re not doing the pronoun Olympics in Florida.”

According to reports by The Wall Street Journal, Mr DeSantis is expected to launch his presidential bid on Monday (22 May).