Stop Murder Music
Stop Murder Music is a campaign to oppose alleged homophobic work of certain Jamaican musicians, primarily dancehall and ragga artists such as Buju Banton, Bounty Killer and the Bobo Ashanti Rastafarians Sizzla and Capleton.
The campaign accuses these artists of promoting violence against LGBT people through the lyrics in their music and attempts to stop this. Stop Murder Music is jointly run by OutRage!, the Black Gay Men's Advisory Group, and J-Flag. The term was coined by British gay rights activist Peter Tatchell in the mid-1990s.
Reggae Compassionate Act
The Reggae Compassionate Act was an agreement signed in 2007 by artists including Beenie Man, Capleton, and Sizzla. It has now been somewhat discredited as some artists have felt it was badly worded, while others have denied signing it. Others (including Elephant Man, T.O.K., Bounty Killa, and Vybz Kartel) have simply refused to sign it.
Stop Murder Music (Canada) is an independent branch of the organization in Canada, founded by Akim Adé Larcher, after learning at a local West Indian store about a Canadian Tour by Elephant Man. Larcher, a Canadian/Saint Lucian, brought together over 20 organizations from the African and Caribbean communities in Canada to form the group.
Despite not causing any artists to be denied entry visas, the campaign was able to get concert venues cancelled and also get iTunes to remove some tracks by Buju Banton, Elephant Man and TOK that they deemed contrary to their standards.
Arguments for and against
Tatchell has called for laws against homophobic music and the Campaign participated in protests outside concerts. The Campaign has especially objected to lyrics which they allege to support violence, including allegedly murder, towards gay men. Dennis Carney, chair of the Black Gay Men's Advisory Group, argued in 2004 that the MOBO Awards had a responsibility to exclude anti-gay artists because, "homophobic lyrics in music normalise hatred towards black gay men."
The UK International Development Minister Gareth Thomas argued in a speech that, "A number of artists [such as Sizzla and Buju Banton] are effectively contributing to the spread of HIV by producing reggae and rap songs actually encouraging discrimination against those who have AIDS and encouraging violence against minority groups such as men who have sex with men...Yes, we believe in free speech, but nobody in a democracy should be able to incite violence against minorities." He cited John King and the Mighty Gabby as examples of musicians who are positive role models against violence and discrimination.
Tatchell and the Stop Murder Music campaign have been criticized by The Black Music Council, a British organisation formed in 2004 in response to the campaign by the president of Blacker Dread Records, Blacker Dread, in order, "to protect the rights of the eight artistes placed on the OutRage! hit list".
Vice-chairman of the BMC, Doctah X, points out that Jamaica does not have strict anti-gay laws such as Saudi Arabia, which punishes homosexuality with beheading, and said that Jamaica is an easier target for British activists. Dread accuses Tatchell of racism and extremism, saying, “He has gone over way over the top. It’s simply racist to put Hitler and Sizzla in the same bracket [referring to an interview Tatchell gave] and just shows how far he is prepared to go.”
- Silencing Jamaican musicians fuels censorship debate
- Pride and prejudice
- Archive copy of "Can music incite murder?", The Black Music Council Site at the Internet Archive. Report Date:15 Dec 2004.
- Alexis Petridis (Friday 10 December 2004). "Pride and prejudice", Guardian.co.uk.
- Burrell, Ian (2005)."'Murder music' silenced by a tough operator", Independent, The (London), Mar 7, 2005.
- Colin (2007). "Reggae Stars Sign On To Cut Out Homophobic Lyrics", LOGOonline.com: NewNowNext, at the Internet Archive. June 13, 2007.
- Andy (2007). "Reggae Stars Renounce Homophobia, Condemn Anti-gay Violence", Towelroad.com. 13 June 2007.
- "Reggae Compassionate Act needs revision", ttgapers.com.
- Keril Wright (July 22, 2007). Archive copy of "Beenie Man Denies Signing Deal with Gay Group", Jamaican Observer at the Internet Archive.
- Reggae tips
- "Stop Murder Music (Canada) (SMMC) | Egale Canada's". Mygsa.ca. Retrieved 2012-07-04.
- Krishna Rau / Toronto / Thursday, October 11, 2007 (2007-10-11). "Koolhaus cancels concerts amid queer outrage". Xtra.ca. Retrieved 2012-07-04.
- (Jenna Wakani photo) (2008-04-07). "iTunes Canada pulls anti-gay dancehall songs". Xtra.ca. Retrieved 2012-07-04.
- Reggae star barred from Britain. "Sizzla Denied Visa". Peter Tatchell. Retrieved 2012-07-04.
- Graver, Mark (2004). "Why homophobic lyrics in reggae music are a health issue for black gay men", MedicalNewsToday.com. Article Date: 10 Sep 2004 - 9:00 PDT.
- (22 November 2004). "HIV warning over reggae lyrics", BBC News.
- Boseley, Sarah (22 November 2004). "Reggae stars 'fuel spread of HIV'", Guardian.co.uk.
- Gareth Thomas. "Speech", UK/CARICOM Champions For Change Conference.
- Alicia Roache, Staff Reporter. "Black Music Council Defends DJ’s", The Sunday Gleaner (sosjamaica.org). 13 December 2004. glapn.org.