A representation of Christ too “effeminate” for ultraconservatives in Spain

A Christ that is too “effeminate” and “sexualized”? In Spain, the official poster used for the Holy Week festivities in Seville arouses the anger of ultraconservative circles, who are demanding its removal, deeming it “offensive” to Catholics.

Presented on Saturday, this poster created by Sevillian artist Salustiano García shows the resurrected Jesus, lightly covered at the waist by a white shroud.

It represents “the luminous part of Holy Week”, in the “style specific to this prestigious painter”, underlined in a press release the organization bringing together the Sevillian brotherhoods which will participate in the processions which take place each year from Palm Sunday to Sunday Easter.

Intended to be distributed throughout the city, this poster sparked controversy on social networks, where many Internet users as well as an ultraconservative Catholic association denounced its character, according to them, “sexualized”.

This poster is “a real shame and an aberration”, said, on X, the Institute of Social Policy, an organization defending “Christian symbols”, and committed in particular against abortion.

Judging this Christ to be “effeminate” and “mannered”, she called for its removal and demanded a public apology from the artist, believing that this “offensive” representation did not correspond to the spirit of Holy Week.

These criticisms were relayed by the head of the far-right Vox party in Seville, Javier Navarro, who judged “this provocative poster” on X. It does not meet “the objective for which it was designed”, namely “to encourage the devout participation of the faithful”, he added.

A petition was even launched on the Change.org website. Signed on Monday by nearly 10,000 people, it calls for defending the “tradition” and “religious fervor” of Seville in the face of this work.

“Politicization of the picture”

Reactions denounced by the author of the poster, who said he was “surprised” by these attacks, assuring in an interview with the conservative daily ABC that he had painted a “sympathetic” and “elegant” work, in an approach of “profound respect” for believers.

“To see sexuality in my Christ, you have to be sick,” said the 52-year-old artist, recalling that Jesus was regularly represented naked in classical art. “People who said bad things about my work […] need a little artistic culture,” he joked.

Salustiano García, whose works are exhibited in galleries around the world, said he took his son as a model for this poster. “We both laughed when we discovered this controversy and we are very surprised by the politicization of the painting,” he added.

The socialists, in power in Spain, defended the poster, denouncing the “homophobic and hateful” nature of the attacks, in the words of their leader in Andalusia, Juan Espadas, who defended the alliance of “tradition and modernity” characteristic of this region, a former bastion of the left.

Spain, which decriminalized homosexuality in 1978, three years after the death of dictator Franco, has since become one of the most open countries in the world towards the LGBT+ community, authorizing homosexual marriage and adoption for same-sex couples from 2005.

Holy Week processions, which commemorate the Passion, death and resurrection of Christ, occupy an important place in Spain, a country where Catholic traditions remain very present – and particularly in Seville, considered the “capital” of these parades religious.

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