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LONDON - The Gay Liberation Network has learned that a deal has been struck between reggae's dancehall artists and gay rights organisations to prohibit violently homophobic lyrics. Several performers had performed songs wherein they explicitly called on their listeners to murder gay people.

Under the agreement brokered in London, record companies, promoters and publishing firms representing up to 90 percent of the reggae industry have agreed to ban any future material that could be seen as inciting violence against lesbians and gays.

The deal commits the music companies to ensuring there are no provocative references at live concerts. The ban on violent homophobia applies to releases and performances both in Britain and abroad, including Jamaica.

Among those party to the "ceasefire" is gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, whose group Outrage! was part of the Stop Murder Music coalition and played a key role in spreading the campaign internationally. Both sides will monitor the agreement and a grievance procedure is being established. Chicago's Gay Liberation Network worked in collaboration with Outrage! by organizing protests in Chicago and facilitating protests in Los Angeles.

GLN, then known as Chicago Anti-Bashing Network, organized protests against Beenie Man and Capleton at the Chicago House of Blues. Nearly all Beenie Man performances were cancelled when bad publicity caused his corporate sponsor to withdraw. Although Capleton's Chicago performance went forward, House of Blues management received a torrent of bad press locally, and the gay press helped spread the campaign nationally.

Working with activists in Los Angeles, GLN was able to announce shortly after the Chicago concert and the launch of a boycott against the House of Blues, that the Capleton concerts in LA and New Orleans had been cancelled by House of Blues management. The boycott was ended as a result.

"This deal is not perfect," said GLN's Bob Schwartz. "There were concessions on both sides, such as not requiring the singers' to apologize for past hate lyrics, and leaving already released material in circulation. While this 'ceasefire' is an important step, close monitoring will have to be done, especially in Jamaica. We need to be certain that Jamaican gays are on board, and that US and European gays stay in solidarity with them." [2/11/05]


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