Beenie Man, Sizzla and Capleton sign historic agreement to stop ‘murder music’
by Brett Locke
Beenie Man, Sizzla (center) and Capleton say they’ll no longer perform songs with anti-gay lyrics.
LONDON — Three of the world’s top reggae/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 LGBT people.
They have now signed on in support of the Reggae Compassionate Act in a deal brokered with top reggae promoters and Stop Murder Music activists.
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 Peter Tatchell, of the British gay human rights group OutRage. Tatchell 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 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.
This view is mirrored by fellow Stop Murder Music campaigner, Dennis L Carney, vice-chair of the Black Gay Mens Advisory Group (BGMAG) in London. Carney is of Jamaican descent and played a leading role in negotiating the Reggae Compassionate Act. “I am thrilled that Beenie Man, Sizzla and Capleton have signed up to this historic agreement with the Stop Murder Music campaign,” said Carney. “We welcome their commitment to not produce music or make public statements that incite hatred and violence against gay people.
“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.”
In the Reggae Compassionate Act the three singers pledge to:
• Respect and uphold the rights of all individuals to live without fear of hatred and violence due to their religion, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity or gender.
• Acknowledge that there is no space in the music community for hatred and prejudice, including no place for racism, violence, sexism or homophobia.
• Not make statements or perform songs that incite hatred or violence against anyone from any community.
• Not sing lyrics or make public statements, in Jamaica or anywhere else in the world, that incite prejudice, hatred or violence against lesbian and gay people.
“This commitment is a major blow against homophobia in the Caribbean and in popular music,” said Tatchell. “The Reggae Compassionate Act applies worldwide.
“As a result of them signing this statement, for a trial period we are suspending the campaign against these three performers. If they abide by the agreement we will make this suspension permanent.
“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 organizations worldwide to intensify the campaign to cancel these five singer’s concerts and their record, sponsorship and advertising deals. These artists have openly encouraged the murder of lesbians and gay men, which is a criminal offense in every country. Stop Murder Music calls on all people of good conscience to boycott these promoters of hatred and violence; and to campaign against them with the same determination that they would campaign against racists and anti-Semites.
“These unrepentant homophobic performers are the moral equivalent of neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan,” added 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 singer’s 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.”
Text of the Reggae Compassionate Act
We, the artists of the Reggae community, hereby present this letter as a symbol of our dedication to the guiding principles of Reggae’s enduring foundation of One Love. Throughout time, Reggae has been recognized as a healing remedy and an agent of positive social change.
We will continue this proud and righteous tradition.
‘This commitment is a major blow against homophobia in the Caribbean and in popular music.’
— Peter Tatchell
Reggae Artists and their music have fought against injustices, inequalities, poverty and violence even while enduring some of those same circumstances themselves. Over the years, reggae music has become popularized and enjoyed by an unprecedented audience all over the world. Artists of the Reggae Community respect and uphold the rights of all individuals to live without fear of hatred and violence due to their religion, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity or gender.
While we recognize that our artistic community comprises many different individuals who express themselves in different ways and hold a myriad of beliefs, we believe firmly that the way forward lies in tolerance. Everyone can keep his own conviction and we must receive respect for our freedom of speech as far as we respect the law, but 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 music.
This Compassionate Act is hereby calling on a return to the following principles as the guiding vision for the future of a healthy Reggae music community:
• Positive Vibrations
• Consciousness Raising
• Social and Civic Engagement
• Democracy and Freedom
• Peace and Non-Violence
• Mother Nature
• Equal Rights and Justice
• One Love
• Individual Rights
• Tolerance and Understanding
We, as artists, are committed to a holistic and healthy existence in the world, and to respect to the utmost the human and natural world. We pledge that our music will continue to contribute positively to the world dialogue on peace, respect and justice for all.
To this end, we agree to not make statements or perform songs that incite hatred or violence against anyone from any community.