(ANSA) - Sanremo, February 18 - Singer-songwriter Rufus
Wainwright on Tuesday defended his song 'Gay Messiah' against
accusations of blasphemy and said controversy surrounding his
scheduled appearance at the Sanremo song contest had come as a
The openly gay American-Canadian artist was set to perform
John Lenon's 'Across the Universe' and his own 'Cigarettes and
Chocolate Milk' - but not the controversial 'Gay Messiah' - at
the annual national song festival due to get underway later in
"His song Gay Messiah ... is not meant to be 'blasphemous'
as it is not a portrayal of Jesus or any religious figure in the
canon of the Catholic Church but a metaphor for a world where
gay people enjoy the same rights as heterosexual people, which
judging by the reactions in Italy is still very far away," said
a spokesperson in response to criticism from the Catholic youth
organisation Papaboys of his scheduled performance amid calls
for the management of state broadcaster RAI to 'intervene or
"It is sad that a lot of the members of the Catholic Church
seem to trail far behind their leader Pope Francis in his
respect and acceptance for women, gay people and other
minorities," continued the statement.
On Monday RAI 1 Director Giancarlo Leone said Wainwright's
appearance was not intended to cause a scandal.
"The difference between commercial television and RAI is
exactly in the fact that we have Rufus Wainwright and the others
do not," said the head of the channel that is to broadcast the
"We have no intention of creating controversy using this
singer, who was, among other things, defined by Elton John as
the greatest songwriter in the world".