‘Gay’ Jesus painting sparks Christian uproar in Spain

A new portrait of Jesus has caused controversy online for being “too effeminate.”

The painting, by Spanish artist Salustiano García Cruz, was recently unveiled as the official poster of the Holy Week in Seville in southern Spain.

The image depicts a young muscular Jesus wearing a loin cloth, which was modelled on the artist’s own son. However, unlike more common depictions of Jesus throughout art history, this image does not depict suffering, and it’s sparked controversy online among religious groups.

As Barcelona gallerist Artur Ramon told the BBC, this version of Jesus is controversial because, as per southern Spanish tradition, Christ is typically represented as suffering and drenched in blood.

“It’s a Christ that I would say is effeminate or androgynous in a way,” Ramon said. Spain is a country that is still quite homophobic, and people don’t like that he is represented in this way for a festival that marks the passion of Christ in his final moments of life.”

Responding to the image on X, formerly Twitter, conservative Catholic group The Institute of Social Policy labelled it a “true aberration,” arguing that the portrayal is both “sexualised” and “effeminate.” It demanded its removal, as did a petition circulated on Change.org that demanded the painting did not represent “Christian values.” So far, it’s received 14,000 signatures.

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According to reports in the French publication Le Point, the Spanish Foundation of Christian Lawyers is also considering taking legal action against the painting and its artist, claiming that it’s a gesture towards the LGBTQ+ community and accusing it of promoting “debauchery.”

Elsewhere, in an interview with Spanish publication El Mundo, when speaking about the controversy, Cruz remarked that “they say he looks gay. In 2024 using homosexuality as a weapon, I am convinced Jesus Christ wouldn’t like that.”

“A gay Christ because he looks sweet and is handsome, come on! We are in the 21st century.”

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