by Rex Wockner
Buju Banton has joined fellow Jamaican reggae-dancehall singers Beenie Man, Sizzla and Capleton in signing an agreement to stop bashing gays in their music.
Banton’s huge hit Boom Bye Bye advocates shooting gay men, dumping acid on them and setting them alight.
Under the Reggae Compassionate Act, written by reggae promoters working with activists from the international Stop Murder Music campaign, the four performers will not release new anti-gay songs, perform their earlier gay-bashing material or make homophobic public statements.
The document states, “There’s no space in the music community for hatred and prejudice, including no place for racism, violence, sexism or homophobia.”
“I really hope that [Banton’s] actions are genuine and it is not just because international pressure is hurting his pocket,” commented Carl Edmonson of the Jamaican Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays.
The Stop Murder Music campaign, headed by British gay leader Peter Tatchell, has provoked cancellations in several countries of concerts by the four singers and fellow gay-bashing dancehall singers Elephant Man, TOK, Bounty Killa and Vybz Kartel, who have not signed the agreement. Some of the singers also have lost sponsorship deals because of the campaign’s initiatives.
Meanwhile, The Jamaica Observer newspaper reported July 22 that Beenie Man is denying he signed the agreement.
“Mi neva sign it, yuh hear sah,” the singer reportedly told the paper. “I do music. Dancehall mi do, I can’t promise nuh man dat.”
But Tatchell provided this column a copy of a signed document, which can be seen on the Web at tinyurl.com/yo63db. Beenie Man’s real name is Moses Davis.
In the Observer interview, Beenie Man also said he feels gay sex is wrong but that gays don’t deserve death.
“We don’t need to kill dem,” he said. “We just need fi tell the people dem the right ting because I not supporting a gay lifestyle because it’s not wholesome to me.”
Samples of some of the dancehall singers’ gay-bashing lyrics are on Tatchell’s Web site at tinyurl.com/2xax3b
La Paz pride dynamited
A float was dynamited at gay pride in La Paz, Bolivia, June 30, according to late-arriving reports.
Six marchers were injured in the blast that took place during the pre-parade lineup.
Pride events in three other Bolivian cities — Cochabamba, Tarija and Santa Cruz — took place without incident.
There have been problems in previous years in Santa Cruz and La Paz, with protesters throwing tomatoes and rotten eggs at the marchers.
This year’s events in Cochabamba and Tarija were the first for those cities.
A Cochabamba daily newspaper reported “an overflow of glamour, joy, luxury, color and respect” as thousands of Cochabambinos danced their way from the Plaza of the Flags to Columbus Plaza.
New British PM supports gays
New British Prime Minister Gordon Brown expressed his support for gays July 17, answering a series of questions from readers of PinkNews.co.uk.
“I am proud of this Government’s record on gay rights,” Brown wrote. “I think this Government has made a huge amount of progress: for example, we’ve equalised the age of consent, repealed [the anti-gay law] Section 28, and made it illegal to discriminate on grounds of sexual orientation. I can promise this Government will continue to do all it can to make Britain a fairer and more tolerant place.”
Brown said he was “very pleased … to put on record” his support for the UK’s civil-partnership law, which grants registered gay couples all the rights of marriage.
And he said the government has “announced an international strategy to promote rights overseas, which includes Britain’s commitment to the universal decriminalisation of homosexuality.”
Further, the prime minister promised to do more “to tackle homophobic bullying in schools [and] discrimination in the workplace.”
Sperm donor stops lesbian couple from emigrating
A sperm donor in Dublin, Ireland, has stopped the mother of his son and her lesbian partner from moving to Australia.
The Supreme Court ruled 2-1 that the women could not relocate the man’s 14-month-old son overseas without the man’s consent.
The man and the boy’s mother had signed a contract agreeing the child would be told who his father is and granting the father visitation rights.
But the relationship between the man and the lesbians later soured (the parties have not been named) and the couple began restricting the man’s access to the boy and announced they were going to Australia for a year.
The man sued to stop the trip, and also is now suing for joint custody.
U.N. grants more gay groups official status
Sweden’s leading national gay group, RFSL, and Canada’s Coalition gaie et lesbienne du Quebec are the latest GLBT organizations to achieve consultative status at the United Nations’ Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
The council welcomed the Canadian group July 20 in a 22-13 vote with 13 abstentions and six countries not present. The vote for the Swedish group was 22-12 with 12 abstentions and eight nations missing.
The United States voted in favor of both groups. Other supportive nations included Albania, Bolivia, Czech Republic, Guinea-Bissau, Lithuania, Mexico, Romania, and a number of predictably gay-friendly countries. Opposition came from Algeria, Belarus, Benin, China, Guinea, Indonesia, Iraq, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Somalia and Sudan.
Consultative status allows organizations to access U.N. meetings, deliver oral and written reports, contact country representatives and organize events.
Last year, three gay groups received the status: the Danish National Association for Gays and Lesbians, the Lesbian and Gay Federation in Germany, and the European branch of the International Lesbian and Gay Association. Other queer groups with the status include the U.S.-based International Wages Due Lesbians and Australia’s Coalition of Activist Lesbians.
Nearly 2,900 organizations have ECOSOC consultative status.
(RFSL used to stand for Riksfoerbundet foer sexuellt likaberaettigande [National Federation for Sexual Equality]. The group now calls itself simply RFSL, but also changed its long-form name to National Federation for Homosexuals’, Bisexuals’ and Transpersons’ Rights [Riksfoerbundet foer homosexuellas, bisexuellas och transpersoners raettigheter]. The Quebecois group’s name is not translated in English-language Quebec media.)
Changes sought in Slovenian partnership law
SKUC-LL, the lesbian section of Slovenia’s Students’ Cultural Center, has sent the government several proposed changes to the nation’s same-sex partnership law.
The National Assembly passed the law in 2005, by a vote of 44-3, without consulting with GLBT organizations. The measure grants registered couples spousal rights in the areas of property, support, housing, hospital visitation and, partly, inheritance. It withholds equality in the areas of social security, health insurance, pensions, taxation and next of kin.
“The current law imposes the duty to take care for partner if he/she is sick. But at the same time registered partners are not entitled to get a sick-leave for partner or partner’s child,” SKUC-LL’s Tatjana Greif said in an e-mail. “Foreign partner registered to a Slovenian partner is not entitled to get a residence permit.”
Only 12 couples registered under the law in the first year of its existence.
“The reason is the lack of trust among gays and lesbians in existing legal solution, with limited protection scope and no social security,” Greif said. “[The law] was a fundamental step towards equal rights of sexual minorities in Slovenia [but] this is still not equality.”