2007

Saudi Protest

London – 31 October 2007. Outside the Saudi Arabian Embassy, campaigners gathered to protest against human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia, co-inciding with the state visit by King Abdullah. Pictured is Peter Tatchell of OutRage!

© OutRage! 1990-2010. You are free to use this photo to illustrate news stories and articles about OutRage!, the lesbian and gay human rights group, with credit to the group and photographer. For all other uses, please inquire. Photos: Brett Lock, OutRage!

Homotopia Festival

Peter Tatchell talks about queer rights and the philosophy of OutRage!’s direct action. He also talks about Iraq and religious fundamentalism.

Stop Saudi homophobia!

Protesters picketed the Saudi Arabian Embassy in London to condemn the flogging and execution queers. The protest was organised by the National Union of Students LGBT campaign, with the support of LGBT human rights group OutRage! Peter Tatchell was a guest speaker.

© OutRage! 1990-2010. You are free to use this photo to illustrate news stories and articles about OutRage!, the lesbian and gay human rights group, with credit to the group and photographer. For all other uses, please inquire. Photos: Brett Lock, OutRage!

Jamaica – homophobia, murder music and free speech

Is Jamaica is the most homophobic country in the world? Does reggae / dancehall “murder music” contribute to anti-gay violence? Stop Murder Music campaigners, Dennis Carney of the Black Gay Men’s Advisory Group, and Brett Lock of the gay human rights group OutRage!, discuss with Peter Tatchell. Watch here:

http://doughty.gdbtv.com/player.php?h=ea549f923a51daa4d050241c6b6d6c94

Peter Tatchell writes:

Eight leading Jamaican reggae /dancehall stars, including Buju Banton and Beenie Man, have sung songs openly advocating, encouraging and glorifying the murder of queers.

See their homophobic “murder music” lyrics here:

http://www.petertatchell.net/popmusic/Dancehall-Dossier-FINAL.pdf

Are these artists merely reflecting homophobia or helping create it?

Many gay and straight Jamaicans argue that lyrics urging the killing of queers may not create homophobia but they certainly help legitimate and encourage it. When homophobic violence is extolled by big-name reggae super stars it fuels and reinforces anti-gay hatred. It encourages some young men to believe that it is cool and acceptable to bash lesbian and gay people.

These murder music lyrics stir up homophobic hatred and violence, in the same way that the BNP’s racist incitements stir up racial hatred and violence.

Can it ever be acceptable or legitimate to subject other people to violent threats and intimidation? Are homophobic incitements any less worthy of condemnation than racist ones?

Critics of the Stop Murder Music campaign claim it is an attack on freedom of expression. They protest: what about free speech? But since when has free speech included the right to incite the murder of other human beings?

Do the defenders of homophobic murder music also defend the right of white racists to incite the murder of black people? No, of course, they don’t. They rightly condemn even the slightest prejudice against the black community. So why the double standards when it comes to homophobic bigotry?

The murder music singers are not the only culprits. The Jamaican government and police are notorious for their inaction against homophobic violence. According to Jamaican law, inciting violence and murder is a criminal offence. Why aren’t these artists being prosecuted?

Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch report that homophobic violence is a major problem in Jamaica. This is corroborated by Jamaican human rights groups such as Jamaicans for Justice, Families Against State Terrorism, Jamaica AIDS Support, and the Independent Jamaica Council for Human Rights.

All these respected bodies accuse the Jamaican government and police of colluding with queer-bashing attacks, and of failing to protect the gay victims of mob violence.

Ending murder music will not, of itself, end anti-gay violence. But it can contribute to deescalating the culture of homophobia that is terrorising lesbian and gay Jamaicans and wrecking their lives.

To view the programme, click on this link:

http://doughty.gdbtv.com/player.php?h=ea549f923a51daa4d050241c6b6d6c94

Note:

Talking With Tatchell is broadcast every Friday night at 8.30pm on the internet TV channel, www.18doughtystreet.com

Previous programmes are permanently archived. Type “Tatchell” into the Search facility to access all past editions of Talking With Tatchell.

Jamaica – homophobia, murder music and free speech

Is Jamaica is the most homophobic country in the world? Does reggae/dancehall “murder music” contribute to anti-gay violence? Stop Murder Music campaigners, Dennis Carney of the Black Gay Men’s Advisory Group, and Brett Lock of the gay human rights group OutRage!, discuss with Peter Tatchell.

Nigeria “unfit” to host 2014 Commonwealth Games

Left to right: Mike Hersee, Peter Tatchell, Davis Mac-Iyalla and Rev Stephen Coles

Human rights abuses disqualify the city of Abuja

LGBT athletes, officials and spectators at risk of arrest & violence

Gay delegation meets 2014 Chief Executive in London

London – 3 August 2007

“It would not be right for the 2014 Commonwealth Games to be held in Nigeria, given the country’s appalling human rights record, including its systematic persecution of lesbian and gay Nigerians,” said Davis Mac-Iyalla, founder and leader of the gay Christian group, Changing Attitude Nigeria.

“Nigeria’s homophobic oppression is a violation of the Commonwealth Games ethos of equality, humanity, peace, unity, cooperation and understanding. Unless Nigeria radically improves its human rights record, it should be ruled out of consideration as a host for the 2014 Games,” add Mr Mac-Iyalla.

Mr Mac-Iyalla was speaking immediately after leading a delegation which met Mike Hooper, Chief Executive of the Commonwealth Games Federation, at the CGF headquarters in Piccadilly, London, on 3 August 2007.

The delegation presented the CGF with an 11-page report setting out why it should reject the bid by the Nigerian city of Abuja to host the 2014 Games.

The report, which is entitled “Abuja’s Bid – Sins of Omission”, was authored by Mr Mac-Iyalla and Mike Hersee, both members of Changing Attitude Nigeria, the Anglican church pressure group which campaigns for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) human rights.

Mr Hooper agreed to present their report to the President of the Commonwealth Games Federation, Michael Fennell, later this month.

The final decision on which city will host the 2014 Games will be taken in early November.

As well as Davis Mac-Iyalla and Mike Hersee the delegation to the CGF included Peter Tatchell of the British gay human rights group OutRage!, and the Reverend Stephen Coles, a member of the General Synod of the Church of England and Vicar of St Thomas’, Finsbury Park, London.

“Abuja’s bid to be the venue for the 2014 Commonwealth Games should be rejected on the grounds of Nigeria’s long history of anti-gay discrimination,“ added Mr MacIyalla.

“Homophobic discrimination violates one of the CGF’s core values, equality. Unless Nigeria swiftly calls a halt to the victimisation of LGBT people, Abuja should be ruled out of the running.

“In many Nigerian states, the maximum penalty for sex between mutually consenting adult men in private is 14 years in prison. In states that have introduced Sharia law, it is death by stoning.

“Violence against LGBT people in Nigeria has increased dramatically, in the wake of attacks on gay people by the Anglican Church of Nigeria and attempts by the Nigerian government to introduce sweeping new anti-gay laws. This legislation would have banned same-sex marriage, gay organisations and churches, safer sex advice for gay men, and the advocacy of gay human rights. Backed by the Anglican Archbishop of Nigeria, Peter Akinola, the anti-gay bill only failed because it ran out of legislative time when the general election was called earlier this year. We fear the bill may be revived. Nigeria is a very threatening, intimidating place for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people,” added Mr Mac-Iyalla.

Mike Hersee, co-author of the report to the CGF, said:

“There will be many lesbian and gay athletes, officials, spectators and reporters at the Commonwealth Games in 2014. They could be at risk of arrest and violence if the Games go ahead in Abuja.

“The Nigerian government must scrap its anti-gay laws and crackdown on homophobic hate crime in order to ensure that Abuja is a safe, welcoming place for gay and lesbian participants. Without these changes, Nigeria is not a suitable country in which to hold the 2014 Games.”

“Other human rights commentators have recently suggested that Abuja’s bid for the 2014 Commonwealth Games is in conflict with the core values and stated aims of the CGF, but this is the first time a Nigerian organisation has put the case so comprehensively,” concluded Mr Hersee.

Davis Mac-Iyalla is visiting the UK until 6 August, after a tour of churches in the US.

“OutRage! is supporting Changing Attitude Nigeria. We urge that Abuja is not be accepted as the host city for the 2014 Commonwealth Games unless the state and federal government agree to improve Nigeria’s human rights record, including an end to the state-sanctioned persecution of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Nigerians,” said Peter Tatchell.

“Davis has done a magnificent job exposing the victimisation of gay people in Nigeria – a victimisation that is incited and endorsed by the Anglican Church of Nigeria and its leader, Archbishop Peter Akinola.

“Earlier this year Mr Mac-Iyalla was forced to flee Nigeria and seek exile in a nearby African country, due to threats to kill him.

“These threats were prompted by his public condemnation of homophobic discrimination and violence in Nigeria, and by his public witness as an openly gay Christian.

“Davis is a truly remarkable, courageous man. He is taking a defiant stand in support of gay human rights, despite the serious danger that he could be murdered. We salute him,” said Mr Tatchell.

END

Contacts:
Davis Mac-Iyalla, Director of Changing Attitude Nigeria
+44 (0) 7948 237399 (until 6 August)
+228 993 7680 (in Africa)
davis@nigeria.changingattitude.org

Mike Hersee, member of Changing Attitude Nigeria and co-author of report
+44 (0) 1582 895422
+44 (0) 7890 475889
mikehersee@crownlight.freeserve.co.uk

Reverend Stephen Coles, Member of the General Synod of the Church of England and Vicar of St Thomas’s, Finsbury Park.
+44 (0) 20 7359 5741
Cardinal.jeoffry@btconnect.com

Reggae stars renounce homophobia

Beenie Man, Sizzla & Capleton sign deal

Historic agreement to stop “murder music”

London – 13 June 2007

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 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

They have now signed up to the Reggae Compassionate Act (copy below), 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!. Mr 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 Mr 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. Mr Carney is of Jamaican descent, and played a leading role in negotiating the Reggae Compassionate Act. He added:

“I am thrilled that Beenie Man, Sizzla and Capleton have signed up to this historic agreement with the Stop Murder Music campaign. 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 – both here in the UK and in Jamaica,” concluded Mr Carney.

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.”
  • “there’s no space in the music community for hatred and prejudice, including no place for racism, violence, sexism or homophobia.”
  • “we agree to not make statements or perform songs that incite hatred or violence against anyone from any community”

In this declaration the artists promise to 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.

“By signing the Reggae Compassionate Act they are stating that, in future, they will not release new homophobic songs or authorise the re-release of previous homophobic songs,” added Mr Tatchell.

“They also agree that they will not make homophobic public statements.

“They recognise that prejudice, hate and violence have no place in music – that singers should unite people, not divide them. They are now committed to opposing homophobic prejudice, discrimination and violence.

“This commitment is a major blow against homophobia in the Caribbean and in popular music.

“The Reggae Compassionate Act applies worldwide. If any of the three singers break this agreement anywhere in the world, we will resume the campaign against them.

“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 organisations 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 offence in every country. We call 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,” said Mr 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 singers’ 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,” said Mr Williams.

Brett Lock, an OutRage! member and key organiser in the Stop Murder Music campaign, reiterated:

“We have never accepted any agreement whereby an artist agrees to not perform homophobic lyrics at concerts in Europe and the US, but continues performing them in the Caribbean.

“The idea that these singers can incite the murder of gay people in Jamaica and then come to Europe and be accepted as legitimate artists is morally sick and indefensible.

“The only agreement we will accept is an agreement that they will not incite homophobic hatred and violence – in lyrics or in public statements – anywhere in the world, including Jamaica. This is what the Reggae Compassionate Act says, and this is the pledge made by the three singers who have signed it,” said Mr Lock.

The Reggae Compassionate Act was negotiated by Eddie Brown of Pride Music UK, with the support of the promoters Michel Jovanovic (Mediacom France), Klaus Maack (Contour Germany), Peter Senders (Panic Productions Holland), Fabrizio Pompeo (Tour de Force Italy), Julian Garcia (Roots and Vibes Spain) and Tim Badejo (Dubble Bubble Scandinavia).

“We would not have secured this agreement without their helpful contacts, input, patience and commitment. We thank them for their hard work,” added Mr Tatchell.

(more…)

Queer the Vote, Stop the BNP

Neo-Nazis threaten gay, black, Jewish and Muslim people

Big queer vote urged to block the election of BNP candidates

London – 17 April 2007

“Queer the vote and stop the BNP”. This is the message of gay human rights group OutRage! ahead of the 3 May elections for local councils and for the Scottish and Welsh assemblies.

“Lesbians and gay men can help block the election of candidates from the racist, anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim and homophobic British National Party (BNP). Make sure you and your straight friends vote on 3 May,” said Peter Tatchell of OutRage!

“A high turnout will reduce the BNP’s share of the vote and lessen its chances of winning seats,” he said.

“We urge queer voters to quiz their local candidates on gay issues and to vote for those with the most homo-friendly policies.

“With one-in-ten voters being lesbian, gay or bisexual, the pink vote can influence the election result in many marginal constituencies.

“It is important we elect more pro-gay politicians, to help us secure stronger policies to tackle homophobic bullying and hate crimes,” said Mr Tatchell.

The BNP is fielding a record 655 candidates in the local elections next month; claiming it is on target to win up to 100 new seats – double its current total.

As well as the party’s long history of homophobia, BNP activists also stand accused racism, anti-Semitism, holocaust denial and Islamophobia. A disturbing number of past and present BNP members have criminal convictions for violence – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_National_Party

Although the BNP has publicly ditched some of its most extreme and bigoted policies, many critics believe this make-over is just an astute public relations exercise designed to con people were put off by its neo-Nazi image. They say the BNP hasn’t changed at all; it has just got more professional and media savvy.

The BNP fought previous general elections on a pledge to outlaw homosexuality. It has described Aids as “nature taking revenge” on gay men.

The party’s website claims that: “Sexually-transmitted diseases are no joke. Thanks to them, the average life-expectancy of a gay man is now 40, compared to 71 for all men” – http://www.bnp.org.uk/articles/traditional_values.html

Claiming that the “gay rights lobby target school children,” the BNP has opposed gay equality reforms like the repeal of Section 28 and the abolition of the unequal age of consent. It has also condemned and ridiculed LGBT History Month – http://www.bnp.org.uk/articles/lgbt_month.htm

Soon after the neo-Nazi bombing of a gay bar in Soho, London, in 1999, which killed three people and maimed dozens more, BNP leader Nick Griffin seemed to excuse and endorse the homophobic hatred that inspired the terrorist atrocity. He attacked lesbian and gay people for “flaunting their perversion” and said this showed why “so many ordinary people find these creatures so repulsive”.
Source: Stranger things have happened, Nick Griffin, Spearhead (BNP magazine), June 1999.

Griffin has also denounced homosexuality as “form of behavioural deviancy” and “not a valid lifestyle choice”. He claims the BNP speaks for “the majority of the population” who, he says, believe “homosexuality is wrong” and that it “needs to be pushed humanely but firmly back into the closet”. Griffin warns that if gays continue to “press their aims further” there will be an “almighty backlash” which will result in the imprisonment of all homosexuals.
Source: Putting the record straight, Nick Griffin, Identity (BNP Magazine), December 2003.

Griffin is not alone. Mark Collett, former chairman of the Young BNP, described homosexuals as “AIDS Monkeys”, “bum bandits” and “faggots” and said the idea of homosexuality was a “sickening thought” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_National_Party

There are fears the BNP could make gains in Scotland and Wales in the 3 May elections.

“Recent election results indicate the BNP could make an electoral breakthrough,” added Brett Lock of OutRage!

“Under the proportional representation voting system for the Scottish and Welsh elections minor parties like the BNP can win seats.

“There is a possibility that the BNP may, for the first time, secure representation in the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly”.

“The BNP is attempting to copy the success of other European far right and neo-Nazi parties, such as the Front National in France, the Vlaams Blok in Belgium and the National Democratic Party in Germany.

“The BNP is a racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic party. It has previously threatened to jail queers and bring back Section 28,” said Mr Lock.

(more…)

Stop Murder Music campaign wins black community award

Recognition for successful worldwide grassroots activism

The Stop Murder Music campaign won the Advocacy Award at the Black LGBT Community Awards 2007 ceremony in London.

The awards ceremony was held at a gala dinner event on-board on a luxury Thames River boat on Saturday evening, 7 April 2007.

The Advocacy Award was in recognition that the Stop Murder Music campaign had “brought together activists worldwide in challenging homophobic lyrics which incite people to violence against LGBT people.”

Dennis Carney, vice-chair of the Black Gay Men’s Advisory Group (BGMAG) collected the award on behalf of the campaign, which involved a partnership between BGMAG, OutRage! and the Jamaican gay rights group, J-Flag.

Mr Carney paid tribute to the dozens of gay and anti-violence groups around the world that participated in making the campaign so effective and successful:

“I thought the BLGBT Community Awards event was fantastic and I was over the moon that the wider Black LGBT community fully recognises and supports the dedication and commitment of the Stop Murder Music Campaign’s work at making homophobic dancehall lyrics a thing of the past, by voting SMMC the winner of the Advocacy Award 2006″. said Mr Carney.

Click here for a photo of Dennis Carney with the award:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/outrage/sets/72157600068875737/

“We are honoured to be a part of the campaign and delighted it has won this accolade from the black LGBT community,” said Brett Lock, spokesperson for gay human rights group, OutRage!, which played a coordinating role in the campaign.

“The Stop Murder Music campaign targeted reggae dancehall singers who released CDs advocating the murder of lesbian and gay people. We got scores of concerts cancelled worldwide, causing these murder music artists to suffer huge financial losses. Faced with this pressure, they have cut their output of homophobic songs and now rarely make homophobic statements. It has been a huge success,” said Mr Lock.

Ted Brown, the veteran black gay activist, won the Lifetime Achievement Award.
He was active in the London Gay Liberation Front in the early 1970s, led the campaign against Buju Banton and Shabba Ranks in the early 1990s, and is involved in the Stop Murder Music campaign today.

Man of the Year was awarded to black gay pastor, Rev Jide Macaulay. Previously an activist in BGMAG in London, Rev Macaulay is of Nigerian decent. Last year he returned to Nigeria to set up the country’s first gay church. He has since become a prominent Nigerian campaigner for lesbian and gay human rights.

SMM Award

© OutRage! 1990-2010. You are free to use this photo to illustrate news stories and articles about OutRage!, the lesbian and gay human rights group, with credit to the group and photographer. For all other uses, please inquire. Photos: Chris Houston, OutRage!