WASHINGTON – A federal judge has ruled that a Tennessee law restricting drag performances in public or where children are present is unconstitutional, dealing a major blow to efforts in US states to regulate LGBTQ behavior.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed the bill passed by the state assembly in February that aimed to restrict drag performances, putting the state at the forefront of a Republican-led effort to limit drag in al least 15 states in recent months.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Parker, an appointee of former Republican President Donald Trump, ruled late Friday that the law was «unconstitutionally vague and substantially overbroad.» The First Amendment to the Constitution mandates that laws that infringe free speech must be limited and well defined, Parker said in the 70-page ruling.

“Simply put, no majority of the Supreme Court has held that sexually explicit, but not obscene, speech receives less protection than political, artistic, or scientific speech,” Parker said in the ruling.

Under the law, violators could have faced fines and up to a year in prison and repeat offenders could have faced prison sentences of up to six years.

Ahead of the 2024 election, Republican lawmakers across the country introduced more than 500 bills this year regulating gay and transgender behavior, from what can be taught in schools to bathroom use and medical attention. At least 48 of them have passed, according to the Human Rights Campaign, an advocacy group.

Parker had temporarily blocked the law on March 31, just before it went into effect, siding with the Friends of George’s, a Memphis-based LGBTQ theater group that filed a lawsuit against the state.

GLAAD, an LGBTQ advocacy group, praised Parker’s decision. “This ruling is a turning point and we will not back down,” GLAAD said in a statement.

“All anti-LGBTQ elected officials know that these baseless laws will not stand and that our constitutional freedom of expression protects everyone and drives our culture,” the group said.