Reggae acts renounce homophobia

Acts sign 'historic agreement' to stop 'murder music' - again

Reggae acts Beenie Man, Sizzla and Capleton have signed an agreement renouncing homophobia.

The three acts have previously released anti-gay songs, including tracks which incite listeners to murder members of the gay community.

They have now signed the Reggae Compassionate Act in a deal brokered with reggae promoters and Stop Murder Music activists.

The act sees the singers pledging to “respect and uphold the rights of all individuals to live without 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 not to make statements or perform songs that incite hatred or violence against anyone from any community”.

Peter Tatchell of gay human rights group OutRage! said that by signing the act the artists are “stating that, in future, they will not release homophobic songs or authorise the re-release of previous homophobic songs… They also agree that they will not make homophobic public statements”.

He continued: “The Reggae Compassionate Act is a big breakthrough.

“The singers’ rejection of homophobia and sexism is an important milestone. We rejoice at their new commitment to music without prejudice… Having these major reggae stars renounce homophobia will influence their fans and the wider public to rethink bigoted attitudes.”

The agreement follows the three-year long Stop Murder Music campaign, which resulted in the cancellation of hundreds of the singer’s concerts and sponsorship deals, causing them huge income losses estimated to be in excess of £2.5million.

Not every act has signed the agreement, according to Tatchell: “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.”

However there is some scepticism about this agreement, as a similar one was reached with artists such as Beenie Man two years ago.

In 2005 the reggae industry pledged not to let their acts play or release songs advocating anti-gay violence, but just months later three acts – Beenie Man, Buju Banton and Bounty Killer – were said to have broken that pledge.

In 2006 the acts were seen to have gone back on what they had agreed in the the deal by repeating homophobic songs and views, and the truce was cancelled.