Campaigner Peter Tatchell today called claims that two reggae stars did not sign an agreement to stop performing homophobic music “absurd.”
Buju Banton and Beenie Man both gained positive press coverage around the world for publicly renouncing homophobia by signing the Reggae Compassion Act.
Now Banton’s management team has said he did not sign up.
Speaking to Radio Jamaica, his manager Donovan Germaine claimed that Stop Murder Music, the group responsible for the pledge, had lied to boost campaigning efforts.
Beenie Man also denied signing the pledge, blaming profit-hungry European promoters:
“It’s a ting from the promoters of Europe. They are getting so much fight from the Christian and ‘g’ organisation and everything,” he told the Jamaica Observer.
(“It is a thing from my promoters in Europe. They are coming under pressure from Christian and gay organisations.”)
“These denials are absurd,” human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell told PinkNews.co.uk
Mr Tatchell, who co-ordinated the worldwide Stop Murder Music campaign, has posted copies of the agreements, signed by both Beenie Man – real name Antony Davis – and Buju Banton – Mark Myrie – on his website.
Copies of the signed statements can be viewed
“We are not sure whether this is a case of misreporting, spin by their management, or a genuine recantation,” said Mr Tatchell.
“What is absolutely certain is that these artists have signed the Reggae Compassion Act, we have their signatures on the agreement.
“The signatures have been authenticated as genuine.
“Any attempt to deny that the artists have signed this agreement will just make them look dishonest, duplicitous and downright ridiculous.”
Mr Tatchell said that the deal had been brokered by reggae promoter Eddie Brown, of Pride Music, who knows the artists and flew to Jamaica to get their written agreement to the Act.
“We have total confidence that Eddie Brown has got their signatures,” Mr Tatchell said.
“The insinuation that Mr Brown or anyone else forged the signatures is a mark of desperation, it reflects very badly on the character of the people making these allegations.”
Beenie Man told the Jamaica Observer that he rejects violence against gay and lesbian people:
“We don’t need to kill dem.
“We just need fi tell the people dem the right ting because I not supporting a gay lifestyle because it’s not wholesome to me.”
(“We do not need to kill them. We just need to tell them the right thing. I’m not supporting the gay lifestyle, it’s not wholesome to me.)
Last month Beenie Man, along with artists Sizzla and Capleton, who, like Banton, had previously released anti-gay hate songs, including incitements to murder lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, signed up to the pact.
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
“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.”
Banton became notorious for his 1992 song Boom Bye Bye which advocates shooting gay men in the head, pouring acid on them and burning them alive.
His decision to stop performing homophobic songs was hailed as another victory for the three-year-long Stop Murder Music campaign, which had brought about the cancellation of hundreds of concerts and sponsorship deals, causing income losses estimated in excess of $5m (£2.5m).
“The Reggae Compassion Act is a big breakthrough,” said Mr Tatchell.
“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.”
The fight against other homophobic performers continues:
“The other four murder music artists – Elephant Man, TOK, Bounty Killa and Vybz Kartel – have not signed the Reggae Compassion Act.
“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 singers’ concerts and their record, sponsorship and advertising deals,” said Mr Tatchell.