News (World)

Drag queen arrested for performing the Lord’s Prayer in the Philippines

A Filipino man was arrested late Thursday and charged for a second time with three counts of “immoral doctrines, obscene publications and exhibitions and indecent shows” for performing the “Lord’s Prayer” in drag, Manila police said Friday.

Amadeus Fernando Pagente, who goes by he, she and they pronouns, performs as Pura Luka Vega.

A video of Pagente performing as Jesus Christ in drag and reciting the Lord’s Prayer over a musical soundtrack was recorded in July and went viral in the majority-Catholic country.

Pagente was widely accused of blasphemy and declared “persona non grata” by local governments across the island nation. He was arrested and charged a first time in October.

In an interview from behind bars then, Pagente said they had “done nothing wrong.” The drag queen’s arrest served to demonstrate “the degree of homophobia” in their native Philippines, Pagente told Agence France-Presse.

The 33-year-old senior health program officer at the Philippines Department of Health was charged with committing “offensive acts” among a group of partygoers that included dancing, singing and twerking to the Catholic invocation.

Before their arrest, Pagente defended their act as “art” and asserted “drag is not a crime.”

“No one should be arrested, let alone detained, for expressing themselves,” Human Rights Watch senior researcher Carlos Conde said, calling for the charges to be dropped.

He described Pagente’s detention as “an outrage”.

While out on bail for their first arrest, Pagente was taken into custody a second time on Thursday and charged again with the same offense.

If convicted, they could face up to 12 years in prison.

Philippines advocay group Bahaghari called Pagente’s latest arrest an “attack on LGBTQI people’s expression on their relationship with faith and religion.”

Pagente’s supporters are rallying to the drag queen’s defense and soliciting help with their bail, set at 360,000 pesos or $6,425 by a Manila court.

Pagente told AFP they are a devout Catholic, and the Lord’s Prayer performance was meant to “reignite” a sense of faith among LGBTQ people shunned by the Church.

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