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Demonstrations in Tampa Bay held as Florida's new laws take effect Saturday

Critics held protests calling the legislation anti-immigration and anti-LGBTQ.

Author: Miguel Octavio
Published: 11:56 PM EDT June 30, 2023
Updated: 11:56 PM EDT June 30, 2023

TAMPA, Fla. — Just hours before new laws in Florida take effect, protesters gathered throughout Tampa Bay to oppose the legislation.

Dozens protested near Raymond James Stadium to speak out against a new law Gov. Ron DeSantis dubs the strongest anti-illegal immigration legislation anywhere in the country. It aims to crack down on businesses and establishments with undocumented workers. Prior to that protest, people marched in Dover for a gathering led by Faith In Florida to oppose the immigration law.

The LGBTQ+ community also gathered at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park to condemn new laws including the Supreme Court ruling that critics said goes backward in the gay rights movement. It was led by The Party for Socialism and Liberation and ANSWER Suncoast.

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The new state laws expand Florida's “Parental Rights in Education” Act, which critics have dubbed “Don’t Say Gay,” but also “Don’t Say They” due to restrictions on students using preferred pronouns in schools.

It also forces people in Florida to use certain bathrooms of their sex at birth. Those in favor said it protects women and girls, but those against it said it’s an attack on the transgender community.

"I have a child who is part of this community,” Christine Holuban, among Friday’s protesters, said. “I don't think it's right what's happening.”

Other laws from the legislation already went into effect when the governor signed it in Tampa in May. Among them, a ban on minors seeking gender-affirming care and more restrictions on adults who do.

In addition, a prohibition of minors attending an “adult live performance,” which critics said targets drag queens. The governor and lawmakers said the intent is to protect children and keep them away from sexually explicit and lewd performances. That law was temporarily blocked by a judge last week.

"We are going to remain a refuge of sanity and a citadel of normalcy, and kids should have an upbringing that reflects that," DeSantis said last month. Protesters in Tampa also condemned a Supreme Court ruling on Friday. Justices sided 6-3 with a Colorado woman who planned to create web pages for weddings, but said doing so for same-sex couples violated her first amendment rights under Colorado law. "It breaks my heart but we're here to say we won't take it,” Peyton Hoey, who organized Friday’s protest, said. For more on the new laws taking effect, visit this link.


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