MANILA, Philippines – Scores of Christian youths in the Philippines chanted "Stop the Lady Gaga concerts" at a rally Friday calling for the pop diva’s shows here to be canceled despite assurances from authorities that they won’t allow nudity and lewd acts.
Sold-out crowds and angry protests followed Lady Gaga’s "Born This Way" Asian tour. Fans younger than 18 were banned from the Seoul concerts over complaints her lyrics and costumes were too sexually provocative, and she was denied a concert permit in Indonesia by police under pressure from Islamic hard-liners.
About 70 members of a group called Biblemode Youth Philippines rallied in front of the Pasay City Hall in metropolitan Manila. They said they were offended by Lady Gaga’s music and videos, in particular her song "Judas," which they say mocks Jesus Christ.
Lady Gaga has secured papers for two concerts Monday and Tuesday, but Pasay City Mayor Antonino Calixto said he told organizers to ensure that "they follow the rules and regulations stipulated in the concert permit earlier provided by the city government."
"Although we respect artistic and musical expressions, I won’t allow anyone or any group to provide acts which may be questionable in a way at any venue under my jurisdiction," he said in a statement. "We reminded the producers of Lady Gaga’s concert that the show and the event as a whole shall not exhibit any nudity or lewd conduct which may be offensive to morals and good customs."
Protest leader and former Philippine Congressman Benny Abante says his group plans to file a case against Lady Gaga and concert organizers if she sings "Judas" at her Manila gigs.
Organizers from Ovation Productions did not immediately provide details about the upcoming concerts, including whether Lady Gaga will perform "Judas."
Former Manila Mayor Jose Atienza said the singer and organizers can be punished for offending race or religion. Under the penal code in the conservative, majority Roman Catholic country, the penalty can range from six months to six years in prison, although no one has been convicted recently.
Atienza and a prominent lawyer, Romulo Macalintal, met earlier Friday with Calixto to press their concern about the concerts, which will be held at the newly constructed seaside Mall of Asia arena with a seating capacity of 20,000.
The Rev. Reyzel Cayanan from Biblemode Youth Philippines said he will lead another protest march and a candlelight vigil Saturday near the concert venue.