Andrew Clunis, Head of News
THINGS COULD turn ugly for dancehall star Buju Banton when he turns up in Amsterdam next week for two concerts. Gay rights campaigners are seeking to have him arrested under Dutch law for inciting violence against gays and lesbians.
Buju Banton leaves Jamaica this week for a world tour that will take him to Europe, Africa, Japan and Israel. This will also include one London show. Lobby group Outrage! has mobilised support in Amsterdam, one of the most gay-friendly cities in Europe, to have the concerts cancelled and the deejay locked up.
Outrage! has been waging a campaign against Jamaican dancehall artistes who allegedly incite violence against homosexuals in their music. Only last week, Virgin Records was forced to issue an apology on behalf of Beenie Man.
The statement was rejected by Outrage! as being ‘too vague’ as it did not make specific reference to the gay community. Beenie Man’s management team said the artiste renounced violence against all individuals and groups and they would stick by that principle. Peter Tatchell said he wanted Beenie Man to personally apologise to gays and to give proceeds of his record sales to a charity to be set up for the victims of anti-gay abuse.
Outrage! sounded their battle cry recently when they succeeded in having a Beenie Man concert in London cancelled. It was a major victory for the group insistent on ridding dancehall music of homophobia and derailing the careers of chief proponents Beenie Man, Capleton, Elephant Man, Buju Banton, Bounty Killer, Vybz Kartel and TOK.
CONTEMPLATING LEGAL ACTION
But Tatchell’s cash-strapped two-man outfit could have a fight on their hands. A source close to Buju Banton told The Voice that the artiste was contemplating legal action against Outrage! following the circulation of an email that Buju was wanted in Jamaica for beating gay men. The source said: “It is time to go on the offensive. This group has had a free run at trying wreck people’s careers for too long. It is time they were taught a lesson.”
Clyde McKenzie, a member of Beenie Man’s management team said: “If a man says he abhors violence against all human beings why do gays need to be singled out? Such a statement covers all human beings. Gays and straight people have been existing harmoniously in Jamaica for decades. It is this alien intervention from people like Outrage! that is causing problems.” In a direct swipe at Amnesty International, he said: “I am concerned that entities that are thought to be reputable are being hijacked by nefarious characters like Tatchell.”
Meanwhile, Tatchell, who has been called a publicity vulture and a racist, has been accused of fomenting problems where none exist. But he says epithets will not affect his work. “We have been campaigning on human rights for 30 years. We will win,” he said. Tatchell said he had directed similar campaigns at the Church of England, the Catholic Church, the Muslim community and other pop stars including Guns ‘n’ Roses.
In 2001 he was beaten by Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe’s bodyguards in Brussels after he attempted to have the leader arrested. He was also beaten outside the MOBO awards in London some years ago when his group attempted a picket. Outrage! has very little resources to work with, having a core staff of six volunteers totally dependent on well-wishers’ contributions. But he insists his small band of crusaders will topple the big-moneyed might of companies like Virgin Records and artistes like Beenie Man.
A Jamaican music industry chief, who refused to be named, said he is putting together a plan to go on the offensive against Outrage!. “I am of the opinion that these people are unemployed and have too much time on their hands. We are going to be hitting them with actions from all corners. They are maligning the name of our country. Let Peter Tatchell come to Jamaica and see for himself that no one is murdering gays. There are gay people at the various levels of Jamaican society who are recognised by the contributions they have made. They are not exhibitionists wearing their sexuality on their sleeves,” he said.
Beenie Man’s latest album Back To Basics will hit U.K. stores next week.