April 2018 Church & State Magazine - April 2018

Brazilian Court Allows Transgender Jesus Play

  Rokia Hassanein

A play featuring a portrayal of Jesus Christ as trans­gender and living in the modern era has sparked a censorship battle in Brazil.

The Court of Justice, the highest court in the state of São Paulo, unanimously overruled a lower court recently and said that performances of the play, titled “The Gospel According to Jesus, Queen of Heaven,” could go on.

The play, written by an English playwright named Jo Clifford, takes the form of an extended monologue by transgender artist Renata Carvalho. Clifford wrote it in part to explore her own experiences as a transgender woman who was ostracized by a church in Scotland.

It has played to packed audiences all over the country, but not without controversy. Hyperallergic, a website that focuses on news about art and culture, reported that when the play reached the city of Taubaté last year, aggressive protestors swarmed the theater, and the pol­ice had to be summoned to protect Carvalho.

In the decision, Judge J. L. Mônaco da Silva wrote that banning the play would “forbid artistic activity” and amount to “true cultural aggression” – a violation of Brazil’s constitution. 

Added Mônaco da Silva, “People might not agree with the content of the show. … But that’s not enough reason to knock on the doors of the Court to ban its perfo­r­mance. Just don’t watch it!”

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