Thursday June 14, 2007
Three of the biggest names in reggae and dancehall music have agreed to renounce homophobia and excise lyrics promoting violence against gay people from their music. Beenie Man, Sizzla and Capleton, all previously responsible for anti-gay lyrics, have signed the Reggae Compassionate Act, a petition set up by the Stop Murder Music campaign.
All three musicians have suffered loss of revenue, which some reports estimate amounts to as much as £2.5 million, over recent years following high-profile boycott campaigns from organisations such Stop Murder Music and gay rights group OutRage! "The Reggae Compassionate Act is a big breakthrough," said Peter Tatchell, an OutRage! founder who is one of the forces behind the act. "The singers' rejection of homophobia and sexism is an important milestone. We rejoice at their new commitment to music without prejudice."
Dennis L Carney, vice-chairman for the Black Gay Men's Advisory Group, added: "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."
While Beenie Man, Sizzla and Capleton have all pledged to "uphold the rights of all individuals to live without fear of hatred and violence due to their religion, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity or gender", several other high-profile Jamaican artists have been singled out for not complying. "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," said Tatchell. He added: "These artists have openly encouraged the murder of lesbians and gay men, which is a criminal offence in every country... [They] are the moral equivalent of neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan."
The pledge taken by Beenie Man, Sizzla and Capleton can be read here.