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The board announced no citations would be issued following inspections of several Seattle bars that appeared to allow “lewd conduct.”
OLYMPIA, Wash — The Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB) is pausing enforcement of Washington state’s lewd conduct law following pushback from the LGBTQ+ community over inspections made at several gay bars over the past weekend.
No citations will be given to the businesses as the LCB considers possible changes or modifications to current laws.
“At Wednesday’s Board meeting and in many private conversations, we heard strong objections to our actions,” LCB Director Will Lukela said in a prepared statement. “The community also stressed the value of these clubs as a safe place for people who often face discrimination, threats, and violence. Message received.”
Bar owners were advised Friday and Saturday that LCB enforcement officers observed violations of the law, which requires that certain body parts of patrons and employees be covered. A coalition of gay bar owners and several prominent LGBTQ+ activists from Seattle issued a statement on Instagram expressing concern about what they referred to as “raids” at the LGBTQ+ nightlife venues, noting they agitate decades-old tensions between the community and the LCB.
Raids by police and enforcement bodies were historically used to violate safe spaces, compromise the safety, and further police the expression of those in the LGBTQ+ community.
The law that the LCB is tasked to enforce is intended to prohibit strip clubs from serving alcohol in Washington state. It specifies that body parts like nipples and buttocks must be covered.
The LCB also announced it has suspended its participation with the City of Seattle’s Joint Enforcement Team.
According to LCB, staff will prepare a proposal to open rulemaking to review, amend, or repeal the lewd conduct regulations. Staff will brief the board on Feb. 6 and the board will vote on whether to accept the recommendations on Feb. 14.
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