Pura Luka Vega is detained following his controversial drag performance in the Philippines.


Drag queen detained over ‘Jesus’ act in Philippines

Drag queen Pura Luka Vega, whose real name is Amadeus Fernando Pagente, remains in police detention after he was arrested on Wednesday, the Manila Police District (MPD) confirmed.

Vega was arrested at his house in Sta. Cruz, according to MPD’s Sta. Cruz Police Station where he is currently being held. The drag artist was arrested following his controversial performance of the “Ama Namin” or the Lord’s Prayer while dressed in a costume inspired by the Black Nazarene.

Devotees of the Black Nazarene, Hijos del Nazareno, filed a case against Vega, saying that he attacked their religious beliefs. Religious group, Philippines for Jesus Movement, also sued the drag artist for the same reason.

According to MPD’s report, an arrest warrant was issued by Regional Trial Court in Manila for violating the Philippines’ Revised Penal Code and Cybercrime Prevention Act. Under Philippine law, it is illegal to create or promote “immoral doctrines, obscene publications and exhibitions and indecent shows.”

Vega’s bail has been set at ₱72,000 (Dh4,665). Members of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and “Drag Den Philippines” have taken to social media to call for donations to free Vega.

Vega’s rock rendition in August stirred heavy controversy in the predominantly Catholic Philippines, and was denounced by many as “blasphemous”. The drag artist has been declared persona non-grata in various cities and provinces including Manila, Cebu, Bukidnon, General Santos, Cagayan de Oro, Floridablanca in Pampanga, and Toboso, Negros Occidental.

Drag queens rally behind Pura Luka Vega

Meanwhile, drag queens from “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and “Drag Den Philippines” have taken to social media to defend Vega and ask for donations for his bail. In a statement, filmmaker Rod Singh demanded for Vega’s release from police custody.

“Drag is not a crime. Free Pura Luka Vega!” said Singh, who directed the first season of “Drag Den Philippines,” a Filipino drag competition in which Vega competed. Cast from the competition echoed the same sentiment on social media.

Naia Black, the country’s first drag queen, called Vega’s arrest “disturbing”. Posting with the hashtag #FreePuraLukaVega, Shewarma, a finalist in Drag Den Philippines, called for Vega’s release, saying, “We shouldn’t live in a world where our artistic expression and freedom are suppressed.” ICA/Expat Media

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