Members of the gay and lesbian community are again making their voices heard when it comes to reggae artistes with anti-gay messages.
First it was a slew of concert cancellations for Buju Banton on his North American tour to promote his latest album Rasta Got Soul, as members of the gay community aggressively picketed every venue the ‘Gargamel’ was slated to perform. They got the upper hand as Buju conceded to a meeting with a group in San Francisco last Monday. However, Buju made no promises about changing his opinions on the taboo community.
Now fellow Rastafarian reggae artiste Sizzla Kalonji is facing the latest verbal outbursts on his European tour.
Late last week, a concert venue said it would cancel his show in Denmark if he did not change his anti-gay stance.
However, the threat was later withdrawn.
The artiste, whose real name is Miguel Collins, was scheduled to perform at the Danish venue Pumpehuset last night.
The Copenhagen Post claimed Sizzla said he was a ‘role model’ for young people in Jamaica and stood by his anti-gay stance. He was quoted as saying he only signed the Reggae Compassionate Act so he could continue performing in Europe.
However, Sizzla replied shortly after on Pumpehuset’s website saying he was misquoted.
“It is clear that what I have said has been misconstrued in an interview I had given since I have been on tour. Some who are interviewed, granted interviews in good faith, others may have other motives or axes to grind but I have none,” the statement said.
equal rights and justice
It continued: “I believe in peace, equal rights and justice for all mankind and malice towards none. The Reggae Compassionate Act was signed with that belief and it will not change. Me signing the Reggae Compassionate Act is my unflinching belief and commitment towards its goals. In all my shows that I have done so far, I have not wavered from that commitment, which will stand to a lasting testimony.”
When contacted, Sizzla’s publicist, Olimatta Taal, confirmed on Sunday night that the concert was still scheduled for last night.
Sizzla was not available for a comment but Taal says she speaks on his behalf.
“It is evident that Sizzla and other artistes in the reggae industry are being attacked. These organisations have protested concerts and used the press as a tool to push their agenda. Many concerts have been cancelled as a result of their actions and lots of money have been lost. There is a bigger picture that I think these organisations are not looking at,” she told THE STAR.
She added: “Sizzla and the other reggae artistes are all products of a strong, rich Caribbean culture with certain values and principles. They have all been moulded by environments that are a marriage of love and hate, poor and rich, Christian and Rasta, peace and violence. They use reggae music as a way to express themselves, be the voice of the voiceless and the marginalised. Most times the topics they discuss and sing about are controversial but that is the beauty of reggae music and its mother Rastafari. “
Buju Banton’s meeting with the gay group in San Francisco has received mixed responses. While some said it was overdue, others questioned his moral mettle.
Buju, who recently relinquished a portion of his estate in an out of court settlement with long-time domestic partner Lorna Strachan, said in the meeting they spoke and he listened and he spoke and they listened.
One of the gay activists noted that Buju’s views were shaped by Jamaica’s homophobic behaviour and anti-buggering laws.
Earlier this year, Human Rights Watch wrote to Prime Minister Bruce Golding urging action to stem endemic violence against gays, bisexuals and transgender people in Jamaica.
Just last week, during the debate on the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms, Golding reiterated that the country’s Parliament would not recognise same-sex marriage or union while he was in power.
“I make no apology in saying decisively and emphatically that the Government of Jamaica remains irrevocably opposed to the recognition, legitimisation or acceptance of same-sex marriages or same-sex unions,” Golding declared at the debate last Tuesday.
Taal pointed out that Jamaica’s views on homosexuality is not unique and that the gay community is being selective with its demonstrations.
“The whole world is torn around the issues of homosexuality and homophobia but reggae music is the scapegoat with reggae artistes as the targets,” she said. “The lovers and supporters of reggae music must stand up and unite to protect reggae artistes and reggae music, which are misunderstood.”