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Ice Seguerra asks lawmakers about separation of Church and State after Pura Luka Vega’s arrest

Transgender actor-singer Ice Seguerra condemned the arrest of drag performer Pura Luka Vega – assigned as Amadeus Fernando Pagente at birth – for offending religious sensitivity.

Photo from the Instagram account of Ice Seguerra

Transgender actor-singer Ice Seguerra condemned the arrest of drag performer Pura Luka Vega – assigned as Amadeus Fernando Pagente at birth – for offending religious sensitivity.

Though the country’s Constitution stresses the segregation of the Church and State, there remain laws that only benefit religions and the feelings of their followers, including: Article 201 of the Revised Penal Code, or for “Immoral doctrines, obscene publications and exhibitions, and indecent shows”; and Section 133 of the Revised Penal Code, which states that performing acts “notoriously offensive to the feelings of the faithful”.

Seguerra called these laws as “archaic”, lamenting the absence of laws to also protect particularly the LGBTQIA community from unjust treatment because of religion.

“This only goes to show how archaic Philippine laws are,” Seguerra said. “Madaling magsampa ng kaso sa isang taong naka ‘offend’ ng religious beliefs nang karamihan but meanwhile, wala pa ring karapatan sa mata ng batas ang mga LGBTQIA persons na tinatanggalan ng trabaho, sinasaktan, pinapatay na most often than not, ay dahil din sa religion (It is easy to file charges against someone who ‘offended’ religious beliefs of many people but meanwhile, the law still does not recognize the rights of LGBTQIA persons who were dismissed from their jobs, assaulted, killed, most often than not, because of religion as well).”

Pura’s case stemmed from a July performance of a remix of Ama Namin (The Lord’s Prayer). Garbed in a Black Nazarene-inspired costume in a bar, the performance led to them being declared as persona non grata in various localities whose “leaders” considered the performance as blasphemous and disrespectful to their religion; these local government units included Manila, Laguna, Nueva Ecija, Cagayan de Oro City, Bohol, Bukidnon, General Santos City, Floridablanca in Pampanga, and Toboso in Negros Occidental.

The drag performer was eventually charged with a criminal case initiated by “the”Christian” groups Philippines for Jesus Movement, and Hijos del Nazareno. Pura was eventually arrested.

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For Seguerra, criminal charges can be hastily filed against LGBTQIA people, and yet when they are the aggrieved, they are expected to just shrug off the discriminatory acts experienced.

“Sa inyo, nung paniniwala ninyo ang tinamaan, grabe na kayo makaalma. Ang bilis niyong magsampa ng kaso. Kami, kabuhayan, karapatan, at dignidad ang inaalis ninyo sa amin pero ano, kibit-balikat lang at kailangan lang namin tanggapin at unawain (When your faith was insulted, you cry foul. You also file lawsuits quickly. In our case, you already stripped us of our rights, jobs and dignity, but you just expect us to shrug it off, accept and be understanding)?”

For Seguerra, therefore, lawmakers in particular need to revisit existing laws that do not protect the human rights of all.

“To our lawmakers, saan na ang sinasabi ninyong separation of church and state? Saan ‘yung sinasabi niyong kaya kayo nandiyan ay para gumawa ng mga batas na pangkalahatan (To our lawmakers, where is the separation of church and state that you speak of? What happened to your reasoning that you’re in that position to make laws for all members of society)?”

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