São Paulo Court Rules That Censorship of Play About Trans Jesus Is Unconstitutional

Illustration for article titled São Paulo Court Rules That Censorship of Play About Trans Jesus Is Unconstitutional
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After a production of the play The Gospel According to Jesus, Queen of Heaven, which follows Jesus living as a transgender woman in the present day, went on tour in Brazil, conservatives in the country called for the play to be banned. A judge granted an injunction, calling the play offensive, and now that injunction has been ruled unconstitutional by São Paulo’s highest state court.


Hyperallergic reports that Judge J. L. Mônaco da Silva wrote that the previous injunction was censorship and in contradiction of the Brazilian Constitution, adding that it was a “true cultural aggression.” At the time of the injunction the play, directed by Natalia Mallo and starring actor Renata Carvalho, was reportedly performing to packed crowds across Brazil. “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!” the Judge said in his decision.

The Gospel According to Jesus, Queen of Heaven is a one-woman show written by Scottish playwright Jo Clifford as a reflection on her own experiences going to church as a trans woman. After seeing the production at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Mallo tells Hyperallergic that she wanted to bring the show to Brazil especially due to an increase in transphobic violence in the country.

Hazel Cills is the Pop Culture Reporter at Jezebel. Her writing has been published by outlets including The Los Angeles Times, Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, The New York Times Magazine, ELLE, and more.


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Thanks for reporting this, Ms. Cills. Although this is positive news, it’s just a small drop of what is going on in Brazil right now, and it’s important that people knows that this isn’t an isolated incident: after decades of struggle to bring back democracy to Brazil, it’s in jeopardy again due to a swing of right winged ultraconservative ideas taking place right now, helped by opportunist crooked politicians, from the religious, landowners and security blocks in Congress.

We’ve been dangerously flirting with a State of Exception and Fascism for quite a while now, since the impeachement of our last democratically elected President, Dilma Rousseff, from the Workers Party, in a process allegedly for corruption, but that more and more Brazilians are starting to see as an “institutional coup”, orchestrated by the Vice-President Michel Temer, now in power, along PSDB and other right-winged and neo-liberal economic parties in Congress, plus landowners, and the economical elites, with a helping hand of the Judiciary branch (surprisingly, the Military remained most neutral through the current shitshow).

Temer, facing more than 95% of rejection on polls, and unable to pass several proposals of interest of bankers and big business in Congress, is appealing to populist measures, chief among them a Federal Intervention in the State of Rio de Janeiro, right in the middle of Carnaval, putting the Army to “fight crime” in the poor communities (known as “favelas”). This whole intervention is being criticized for every serious Law professional in the country, for violating several Constitutional commands. The citizens leaving in those communities are now being subjected to inconstitutional measures like not being permited to leave the area - to go to school, work, anything, without being photographed and having the pic feed into some databank nobody knows where.

Let this sink into your imagination. Imagine that any citizen, every citizen, in a place like Detroit, ore New Orleans, are forbidden to leave their houses without having his picture taking by armed soldiers patrolling the streets, without cause or explanation, for no other reason than being poor and leaving in poor neighbourhoods. And for purposes that so far no authority gave a satisfactory explanation for.

Yes, and the General commanding the intervention just said, in an interview today, that what is going on right now in Rio is “a laboratory for the rest of Brazil”. Since we’re 8 months from Presidential elections, this is scary as hell...