Greek Bishop Seraphim of Pireaus launches lawsuit againts gay Jesus play for blasphemy
- The actors and creative team behind a play that depicts Jesus Christ and
his apostles as gay face charges of blasphemy in Greece, according to
The production of/Corpus Christi/, a 1997 play by U.S. playwright
Terrence McNally, was greeted with protests by priests and the
right-wing Golden Dawn movement during its run in Athens in October. The
Greek-language staging was eventually cancelled earlier this month.
Greek Orthodox Bishop Seraphim of Piraeus launched a lawsuit against the
production and called for charges of "insulting religion" and "malicious
As is permitted under Greek law, charges were laid without specifying
who would be charged. Police were told Friday to identify who involved
in the play could be summoned to stand trial. No trial date has been set.
If convicted, the actors and creative team face prison sentences of up
to two years.
The play's director, Albanian-born Laertis Vasiliou, said prosecutors
were misdirecting scarce resources by pursuing his cast, rather than
trying to nab tax evaders who have plunged the country into ruin.
"What I see is that there are people who have robbed the country blind,
who are not in jail, and the prosecutor turns against art," Vasiliou
Vasiliou said his production, while it has parallels with the story of
Jesus, centres around a figure named Jacob who presides over a gay
marriage. One of the main themes of the work is corruption in the
Albanian director targeted
The attacks on the play, which faced weeks of protests before being shut
down, centred heavily on the Albanian nationality of the director,
according to BBC reporter Paul Mason.
Right-wing party Golden Dawn is against immigration and urges
deportation of anyone who is not Greek-born, Mason said in a recent
interview with CBC's /Q/ cultural affairs show
Party members often harass immigrants working in Greek markets, Mason
said, adding that though the group has very low support among the Greek
middle class, it has high support among the police.
Almost every production of /Corpus Christi/ in the United States,
including the 2010 revival, has been greeted with angry crowds hurling
homophobic abuse in the name of religion, and the original L.A. run was
greeted with protests and death threats.
Last month, Greek state television came under fire from the main
opposition party and critics for editing a gay kiss out of a broadcast
of the British period drama /Downton Abbey./
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