2004 September

OutRage!’s proposals for calling off the Stop Murder Music campaign

With regard to lyrics and public statements encouraging homophobic violence by Beenie Man, Bounty Killer, Buju Banton, Capleton, Elephant Man, Sizzla, TOK, and Vybz Kartel, we are prepared to call off the campaign against these eight reggae singers if they each:

  1. Make a public statement which specifically mentions that they are apologising to the lesbian and gay community, and which also explicitly states that they are apologising for encouraging and glorifying homophobic violence. Given that their lyrics specifically incite violence against lesbians and gays, a non-specific apology deploring violence in general would not be acceptable.
  2. Affirm their support for the human rights of all people, including lesbians and gays.
  3. Undertake to stop performing songs inciting homophobic violence, or re-releasing them, or licensing them; or recording any similar songs, or making any future public statements threatening or promoting violence against the gay community.
  4. The apology must be a matter of public record. In other words, it should be from their own mouths in a national TV, radio or newspaper interview in the UK.

The reason for asking this of each of the eight singers is as follows:

A decade ago, in response to our protests then, Buju Banton’s record company put out a statement in his name apologising for Boom Bye Bye. But a few weeks later, once the pressure was off, after the concerts had gone ahead and the deals had been signed, Buju Banton denounced his own record company for issuing the apology and denied that he had ever apologised. Boome Bye Bye is still being sold and Banton is still profiting from it. It was reissued on his Greatest Hits album. He continues to perform it, most recently at a concert in Negril, Jamaica on 8 August 2004.

More recently, on 22 August at the Red Stripe Summer Sizzle concert in Jamaica, Beenie Man publicly denied his recent apology and to prove it he performed several of his anti-gay tracks. That is why a simple statement issued in a singer’s name is not acceptable. We have been tricked before. We will not be tricked again.

By asking for this form of apology we are not seeking to humiliate the singers. There is no shame in standing up for human rights and speaking out against homophobic violence. Indeed, there is a long record of black liberation heroes supporting the struggle for gay freedom, including Huey Newton of the Black Panthers, Angela Davis, Coretta Scott King, Jesse Jackson, Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Present Thabo Mbeki.

We believe that if the eight singers support the human rights of all people, including lesbians and gays, it will win them international public respect and will propel their careers forward. They will gain the admiration and acceptance of a wider global audience and the door will open to them to fulfill their potential to be major international music stars.

OutRage!’s chief concern is to help remedy the violence and persecution suffered by lesbian and gay Jamaicans, which this murder music encourages and reinforces. If these singers are willing to speak out against homophobic hate-crimes, we will call off the campaign and be first in line to wish them a successful career.