Three of the world’s top reggae and 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 Act reads:
“It must be clear there’s no space in the music community for hatred and prejudice, including no place for racism, violence, sexism or homophobia.
“We do not encourage nor minister to HATE but rather uphold a philosophy of LOVE, RESPECT and UNDERSTANDING towards all human beings as the cornerstone of reggae.
“We agree to not make statements or perform songs that incite hatred or violence against anyone from any community.”
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 human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who is coordinator of the worldwide Stop Murder Music campaign.
He helped negotiate the deal with the three singers.
“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 undermining homophobia.
“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.
Mr Tatchell said that the campaign against the three artists will now be suspended, but he urged journalists and others worldwide to monitor the performances and statements of Beenie Man, Sizzla and Capleton.
The fight against other homophobic performers continues:
“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. These singers have incited the murder of lesbians and gays. They should not be rewarded with concerts or sponsorship deals.
“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,” said Mr Tatchell.
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.