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Homophobia in reggae [...]

Gay rights activists seek arrest of reggae stars at Mobo awards

Three reggae stars nominated for a Mobo [Music of Black Origin] award may be arrested at the prize ceremony next week because the lyrics of their songs allegedly incite the murder of gays and lesbians.

The gay rights group OutRage had presented Scotland Yard's hate crime unit with a dossier of evidence against Beenie Man, Bounty Killer and Elephant Man, three of the biggest stars of the Jamaican dance hall scene, which is notorious for its homophobia.

The gay rights group OutRage is calling for their prosecution in the light of the crown prosecution service's crackdown on threatening behaviour towards homosexuals and an initiative by the Metropolitan police to encourage gay people to report abuse and harassment.

OutRage's leader, Peter Tatchell, who was beaten by angry reggae fans when he protested against two of the singers outside last year's Mobo party, said: "My request for a prosecution will test whether the police and prosecutors are sincere in their pledge to get tough with homophobic hate crimes."

Chris Wells, editor of the black music magazine Echoes, said OutRage might be shooting itself in the foot by picking a fight with singers whose work would normally pass mainstream audiences by.

"You are never going to stop this - no matter what you do - because Jamaica is a very religious society, and unfortunately, for all sorts of reasons, homophobia is deep there," he said. --The Guardian, September 19, 2003

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