A drag artist who was crowned carnival queen in Las Palmas for a performance that saw him dress up as the Virgin Mary and then Jesus on the cross has sparked an almighty row.
While the audience at the carnival celebrations on Monday clearly enjoyed the show that saw Drag Sethlas – a cross-dressing performer whose real name is Borja Casillas – perform as the Virgin Mary to Madonna's hit Like a Prayer, it didn't go down too well with the Catholic Church.
Watch a video of the performance below:
Francisco Cases, the bishop of the diocese of Canarias, spoke out against the “blasphemous frivolity” of the performance and questioned the limit of freedom of expression when it was so clearly designed to cause offence.
In an open letter published in the Spanish media the bishop said that Monday night's performancehad overshadowed the day of the Spanair plane crash as the “saddest day of my life”.
He described how his eyes had “filled with tears” watching a video of the performance and how he had immediately sought forgiveness from “our Saviour and His blessed mother”.
Cardinal Ricardo Blázquez, president of the Spanish bishop's conference, acknowledged the right to freedom of expression, but called for respect for “the religious sentiments” of Christians in Spain.
Blázquez, sobre la virgen Drag: "Hay que respetar la libertad de expresión pero también los sentimientos religiosos" https://t.co/zB9q9RoTQp— Archi-Valladolid (@archiValladolid) March 1, 2017
Spain's Association of Christian Lawyers filed a complaint to the public prosecutor calling for the drag queen to be investigated for hate crime for insulting religious beliefs.
More than 33,000 people have signed a Change.org petition urging the organizers of the Las Palmas carnival to take responsibility for failing to respect Christians and their faith.
The artist insisted there was “nothing offensive” about the performance and claimed he was just “portraying something that happened in history that is part of our lives.”
After starting the performance as the Virgin Mary, the drag artist ended as Jesus Christ being crucified on the cross.