A string of concerts by Jamaican reggae star Beenie Man have been cancelled after organisers faced a wave of protest from gay rights groups.

The singer was due to play the Big Day Out festival, which is held in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth and in the New Zealand city of Auckland.

Gay rights groups had petitioned festival organisers to drop him from the line-up, saying his songs incited violence.

Beenie Man, real name Anthony Moses Davis, has a number of songs which advocate the murder of lesbians and gays.

Lyrics include “I’m dreaming of a new Jamaica, come to execute all the gays”, while another song suggests lesbians should be hanged.

A statement from Big Day Out confirmed his appearances had been cancelled because they would “mar” the event for many.

It said: “Although aware of the controversial nature of Beenie Man and his previous lyrics that have caused offence with the gay and lesbian and wider community, the producers understood that the artist had renounced these sentiments and no longer expresses those views.

“Notwithstanding claims of a commitment to the Reggae Compassionate Act which he signed in 2007 and a promise of adherence to peaceful and humanistic values for the dates here by Beenie Man, the depth of feeling and hurt amongst these groups has convinced us that for us to proceed with his Big Day Out appearances was, and would continue to be, divisive amongst our audience members and would mar the enjoyment of the event for many.

“For this reason we have decided not to proceed.”

According to gay UK group OutRage!, Beenie Man later denied signing the act and denounced it.

Peter Tatchell, who had written to festival organisers to urge them to drop him, said: “These concert cancellations will hit Beenie Man hard in the pocket. He has lost tens of thousands of dollars.

“The success of this campaign sends a warning message to all murder music artists: inciting homophobic violence will cost you money. You will lose out big time.”