■ Beenie Man: Ban lifted.
LONDON, June 13, 2007 – Three of
the world’s top reggae/dancehall singers have renounced homophobia and
condemned violence against lesbians and gay men.
Beenie Man, Sizzla and Capleton had
previously released anti-gay hate songs, including incitements to murder
lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
They have now signed up to the
Reggae Compassionate Act in a deal brokered with top reggae promoters and
Stop Murder Music activists.
The agreement follows the
three-year-long Stop Murder Music campaign, which resulted in the
cancellation of hundreds of the singers’ concerts and sponsorship deals,
causing them income losses estimated in excess of five million dollars.
“The Reggae Compassionate Act is a
big breakthrough,” said Peter Tatchell, of the British gay human rights
Mr Tatchell is coordinator of the
worldwide Stop Murder Music campaign. He helped negotiate the deal with the
“The singers’ rejection of
homophobia and sexism is an important milestone. We rejoice at their new
commitment to music without prejudice,” said Mr Tatchell.
“This deal will have a huge,
positive impact in Jamaica and the Caribbean. The media coverage will
generate public awareness and debate, breaking down ignorance and
“Having these major reggae stars
renounce homophobia will influence their fans and the wider public to
rethink bigoted attitudes. The beneficial effect on young black straight
men will be immense,” he said.
This view is mirrored by fellow
Stop Murder Music campaigner, Dennis L Carney, vice-chair of the Black Gay Mens Advisory Group (BGMAG) in London.
Mr Carney is of Jamaican descent,
and played a leading role in negotiating the Reggae Compassionate Act.
“I am thrilled that Beenie Man,
Sizzla and Capleton have signed up to this historic agreement with the Stop
Murder Music campaign,” he said.
“We welcome their commitment to not
produce music or make public statements that incite hatred and violence
against gay people.
“This is a giant leap towards
restoring peace, love and harmony to reggae music. These performers are
sending a clear message that lesbians and gay men have a right to live free
from fear and persecution – both here in the UK and in Jamaica,” concluded
In the Reggae Compassionate Act the
three singers pledge to:
■ “respect and uphold the rights
of all individuals to live without fear of hatred and violence due to their
religion, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity or gender”;
■ “there’s no space in the music
community for hatred and prejudice, including no place for racism, violence,
sexism or homophobia”;
■ “we agree to not make statements
or perform songs that incite hatred or violence against anyone from any
In this declaration the artists
promise to not sing lyrics or make public statements, in Jamaica or anywhere
else in the world, that incite prejudice, hatred or violence against lesbian
and gay people.
“By signing the Reggae
Compassionate Act, they are stating that, in future, they will not release
new homophobic songs or authorise the re-release of previous homophobic
songs,” Mr Tatchell pointed out.
“They also agree that they will not
make homophobic public statements.
“They recognise that prejudice,
hate and violence have no place in music – that singers should unite people,
not divide them. They are now committed to opposing homophobic prejudice,
discrimination and violence.
“This commitment is a major blow
against homophobia in the Caribbean and in popular music,” he suggested.
“The Reggae Compassionate Act
applies worldwide. If any of the three singers break this agreement
anywhere in the world, we will resume the campaign against them.
“As a result of them signing this
statement, for a trial period we are suspending the campaign against these
three performers. If they abide by the agreement we will make this
“The other five murder music
artists – Elephant Man, TOK, Bounty Killa, Vybz Kartel and Buju Banton –
have not signed the Reggae Compassionate Act. The campaign against them
continues,” Mr. Tatchell said.
“These singers have incited the
murder of lesbians and gays. They should not be rewarded with concerts or
“The Stop Murder Music campaign
urges organisations worldwide to intensify the campaign to cancel these five
singers’ concerts and their record, sponsorship and advertising deals.
“These artists have openly
encouraged the murder of lesbians and gay men, which is a criminal offence
in every country. We call on all people of good conscience to boycott these
promoters of hatred and violence; and to campaign against them with the same
determination that they would campaign against racists and anti-Semites.
“These unrepentant homophobic
performers are the moral equivalent of neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan,” said
His views are echoed by Gareth Wiliams, co-chair of the Jamaican gay human rights group, J-Flag:
“This statement against homophobia
and violence is a move in the right direction,” he said.
“We hope it is not commercially
motivated by the singers’ desire to maintain their concert revenues, but a
sincere commitment that will encourage an end to homophobic violence and to
all violence against everyone.
“The five artists who have not
signed the statement should now follow this lead and declare their support
for universal human rights, including the human rights of lesbian and gay
people,” said Mr Williams.
Brett Lock, an OutRage! member and
key organiser in the Stop Murder Music campaign, pointed out that Stop
Murder Music had never accepted any agreement where an aerist had agreed not
to perform homophobic lyrics at concerts in Europe and the US, but continued
performing them in the Caribbean.
“The idea that these singers can
incite the murder of gay people in Jamaica and then come to Europe and be
accepted as legitimate artists is morally sick and indefensible.
“The only agreement we will accept
is an agreement that they will not incite homophobic hatred and violence –
in lyrics or in public statements – anywhere in the world, including
“This is what the Reggae
Compassionate Act says, and this is the pledge made by the three singers who
have signed it,” said Mr Lock.
The Reggae Compassionate Act was
negotiated by Eddie Brown of Pride Music UK, with the support of the
promoters Michel Jovanovic (Mediacom France), Klaus Maack (Contour Germany),
Peter Senders (Panic Productions Holland), Fabrizio Pompeo (Tour de Force
Italy), Julian Garcia (Roots and Vibes Spain) and Tim Badejo (Dubble Bubble
“We would not have secured this
agreement without their helpful contacts, input, patience and commitment,”
Mr. Tatchell said. “We thank them for their hard work.”
Posted: 13 June 2007 at 02:00 UK