In recent days, a viral video by drag queen Pura Luka Vega has stirred considerable religious controversy in the Philippines. In the video, Vega, dressed in a drag outfit reminiscent of Jesus Christ, performs a rock rendition of “Ama Namin,” the Filipino version of the Lord’s Prayer.
Vega stated that her performance was intended to challenge, not disrespect, the usual forms of praise and worship. She indicated, “Queerness has always been there, and I feel it’s my way of praising God.”
Vega identifies as a Roman Catholic and stated she respects the religion despite not being a devout follower. “I did that intentionally to challenge our notions of how we worship or how we sing our praise,” Vega stated in a Twitter Spaces conversation.
Many viewers took offense to her performance, causing Vega to question the root cause of their upset. “Was it offensive because I am a queer individual or was it because of other factors?” she wondered.
Vega, who is openly queer, stated that she believes the Bible has often been used to deny the LGBTQIA+ community their basic human rights. She aimed to depict Jesus as a symbol of divine love that embraces all, including the LGBTQIA+ community.
In response to those who were offended, Vega clarified that her performance was not intended for them.
Recent data from the Philippine Statistics Authority shows that Christians make up at least 88% of the Filipino population.
However, Vega’s performance has also drawn the ire of lawmakers, with Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri condemning it as bordering on criminal activity.
Zubiri stated that Vega’s performance “offends the sensibilities of our Christian brothers and sisters” and “dangerously scales the boundaries of protected speech and expression.” He called on the authorities to consider Article 201 of the Revised Penal Code, which penalizes acts that offend any race or religion.
Sen. Risa Hontiveros, known for her support of the LGBTQIA+ community, expressed regret over the performance. She emphasized the need for compassion, understanding, and healing for both religious and LGBTQIA+ communities.
Other senators, such as Koko Pimentel and JV Ejercito, also criticized Vega’s performance for being offensive and lacking discernment.
The debate around Vega’s performance underscores the ongoing tensions between freedom of expression, religion, and LGBTQIA+ rights in the Philippines.