UPDATE: Court dismisses appeal against decision that drag performance was not offensive
On 30 July 2018, a Gran Canaria court dismissed an appeal by the Association of Christian Lawyers after a judge in December 2017 found Borja Casillas’s carnival drag queen gala performance was not offensive towards religion in the legal sense, reported Canarias7.
Three magistrates in the Provincial Court of Las Palmas rejected the appeal and ordered Christian Lawyers pay costs.
Magistrate Pedro Herrera said in the context of Carnival, “it is not possible to look for offenses or offensive behaviour, but rather risky and daring behaviours and, in a certain way, agitators, as it was the one that staged the accused in his role as Drag Sethlas, who supported his interpretation in Catholic symbology and prayers”.
This article was updated on 9 August 2018. The original article entitled Drag queen to stand trial for offending believers, was published on 2 October 2017 and appears below.
Drag queen Drag Sethlas, whose real name is Borja Casillas, has been reported for “offending religious feelings” by the Christian Lawyers Association and a private person, over his 27 February 2017 carnival performance in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. The judge admitted the complaint and initiated procedures, but the first phase of the trial, which was set for 13 September 2017, has been postponed until further notice due to the Christian Lawyers’ representative reportedly not being informed with enough time to fly from mainland Spain to the Canary Islands for the trial, reported La Vanguardia.
The performer is facing charges under Spanish criminal code articles 510 for incitement to hatred, which carries a prison penalty, and 525 for offense to religious feelings, which only carries a fine, reported Cadena SER. The performance, which earned Sethlas the carnival’s first prize, included him dressing as the Virgin Mary and a crucified Christ.
Sethlas had been previously reported over the same performance by the same Christian Lawyers Association, under article 525, but the charges were dismissed by the Public Prosecutor on 13 March 2017, who dismissed the charges on grounds that Sethlas did not have intent to offend through his performance, reported El Mundo.
After criticism from religious authorities and believers, Televisión Española, the main state-owned channel that broadcast the event, decided to withdraw the video of Sethlas’ performance from its website and issued a public apology on 26 March 2017 after realizing that it “might have been offensive to a broad sector of society”, reported ABC