A Louisiana politician stood in the state’s legislature Wednesday proposing a law prohibiting exotic dancers in the state from weighing more than 160 pounds and being older than 28.
There was audible outrage —; and laughter —; as Republican Representative Kenneth Havard read aloud the amendment he had filed to a bill requiring that dancers be no younger than 21 years old.
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Bill 468 is aimed at reducing human trafficking and the exploitation of young women in the sex trade.
“Members, in the spirit of this legislative session, I offer up this amendment as a part of, I guess, keeping the spirit alive of trimming the fat,” Havard began.
Dancers shall be “between twenty-one and twenty-eight years of age and shall be no more that [sic] one hundred sixty pounds in weight.” Havard’s amendment read.
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When asked by another representative if he believes women outside those parameters are unfit to be dancers, Havard said no, he’s simply “worried about their health, and I wouldn’t want them to hurt one another.”
“Do you not find this amendment offensive?” Rep. Nancy Landry asked.
“Well, I’ll pull it Ms. Landry, thank you,” Havard says, as he stepped away from the microphone.
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One fellow lawmaker took the opportunity talk about gender equality in the House.
“I can’t even believe the behaviour in here,” said Rep. Julie Stokes to the House after Havard’s comments.
“I think we need to call an end to this. I hear derogatory comments about women in this place regularly, I hear and I see women get treated differently than men, and I’m going to tell you what, you gave me a perfect forum to talk about it right now. Cause it has got to stop.
“That was utterly disrespectful and disgusting.”
The proposed amendment sparked fury as the bill made headlines for all the wrong reasons.
“This was a slap in the face really to women all over the state,” said Rep. Helena Moreno Thursday, holding up a newspaper featuring Havard’s statements.
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“In my opinion, it warrants an apology,” said House Speaker Taylor Barras.
When pressed on his stance, Havard later said it was all a joke, and an attempt to make a point on over-regulation by the state.
The anti-trafficking bill passed without Havard’s amendment.
With files from the Associated Press