Thu, Nov 04, 2004 - Page 7 News List

Gay campaigners ask police to ban singer over lyrics

`GAY BASHING' Activists are pressing police for a cancellation of a Jamaican artist's UK tour, saying his songs incite violence against gays and lesbians

THE GUARDIAN , LONDON

Gay rights campaigners want police to ban a controversial Jamaican reggae artist from appearing in Britain today after the suspected "gay bashing" murder of a London barman.

Detectives from London's Metropolitan police's racial and violent crime taskforce have been analyzing the lyrics of Sizzla, real name Miguel Collins, along with seven other dance hall artists, for several months over claims his songs incite people to kill gays and lesbians.

As Sizzla starts his UK tour, Peter Tatchell, from the gay rights lobby group Outrage, demanded his shows be cancelled after the weekend murder of 37-year-old David Morley near a gay nightclub in London.

Tatchell criticized police for the slow speed of their inquiry. He said: "If a singer was inciting the murder of black or Jewish people there would be an immediate prosecution. ... Police inquiries into these singers have gone on for over a year, why is it taking so long to get action against artists who explicitly incite the murder of lesbians and gays?"

In September police stopped a gig in Manchester, in the north of England, by another controversial Jamaican artist Buju Banton amid concerns over his lyrics which describe throwing acid over homosexuals. Tatchell believes lyrics in songs such as Boom Boom, Sizzla's latest release, are serious enough to warrant a ban on his performances as well.

In Boom Boom, Sizzla says: "Queers must be killed". In another, Pump Up, he sings: "Shoot queers."

Tatchell believes there is a clear link between these kind of lyrics and gay bashing. Following Saturday's murder in London he said it would be outrageous if the tour went ahead.

"This murder music encourages hatred towards homosexuals and hatred is what fuels queer bashing attacks," he said.

Stonewall, another gay rights group, endorsed his view. A spokesman said: "These homophobic lyrics are appalling and we want something done to stop it. They are inciting violent acts on gay people."

In the early hours of Saturday morning Morley was kicked and punched to death. Police are hunting a gang of teenagers who carried out a spate of attacks that night nearby including an assault on another gay man.

London police have been investigating the songs of a number of artists since allegations were made in June last year. They have passed papers to the UK's crown prosecution service (CPS), who are analyzing and translating the lyrics from Jamaican patois, but there have been no prosecutions to date.

A CPS spokesman said the inquiry was ongoing but had inherent difficulties.

"One of the things that we needed to do in order to be able to have a proper full review of this case was to have a full translation of the lyrics and that has taken time to secure," he said.

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