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Reggae industry to muffle homophobic lyrics

Reggae industry to muffle homophobic lyrics

BBC News reports that the reggae music industry and gay activists in the United Kingdom have struck a global deal that will silence homophobic songs. OutRage! and other groups have agreed to suspend their ongoing campaign against reggae and dancehall artists such as Beenie Man and Sizzla, whose songs often call for violence and murder against gays and lesbians. In return, record companies have promised not to release or reissue offensive songs. It is also believed the promoters will make musicians promise not to perform such songs in concert. None of the artists involved have signed on to the agreement, but labels and promoters have promised to abide by the pledge. The Stop Murder Music campaign led to pickets at concerts, the cancellation of Sizzla's U.K. tour in November 2004, and the dropping of Beenie Man from an MTV-sponsored concert in August. Police in the United Kingdom have also been investigating as to whether or not certain songs could be considered an incitement to violence against gays and lesbians. Media strategist Glen Yearwood, representing the reggae industry, admitted that the campaign against the homophobic songs had been effective: "If you can't have major stars touring, then you don't sell many albums," he told BBC News. Under the terms of the pact, the eight artists in question--Beenie Man, Sizzla, Elephant Man, Buju Banton, Bounty Killer, TOK, Capleton, and Vybz Kartel--will not have to apologize for past songs or public statements about gays. The industry figures involved in the agreement include record companies VP and Greensleeves, distributor Jet Star, and concert promoters Jammins and Apollo Entertainment. Brett Lock of OutRage! said, "The main players in the dancehall reggae industry will attempt to regulate the industry themselves to ensure that there aren't any violently homophobic or gay-bashing lyrics in the future. As a gesture of good faith, the Stop Murder Music coalition has agreed to suspend our aggressive campaigning against murder music. So we shall not be picketing concerts or calling for prosecutions to give the industry the space to regulate and reform itself."

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