Gay rights activists get the plug pulled on 'homophobic' artists

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The Independent Culture

A reggae concert billed as the biggest in the UK and headlined by two artists who are being investigated for their "homophobic" lyrics has been cancelled following a campaign by gay rights activists.

A reggae concert billed as the biggest in the UK and headlined by two artists who are being investigated for their "homophobic" lyrics has been cancelled following a campaign by gay rights activists.

"The Reggae in the Park" concert had been scheduled to take place a week today with a line-up which included the controversial Jamaican star Vybz Kartel, who was last week nominated for a Mobo Award, and Sizzla.

They are among eight artists whose material is being examined by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) over claims their lyrics incite violence against homosexuals. The gay campaign group Outrage! made a complaint to police about the content, who in turn have asked the CPS to consider whether performance or promotion of the material might amount to a criminal offence.

Kartel's track "Bedroom Slaughteration" includes the line: "Bow cat, sodomite, batty man fi gat assassination (yeah)". It translates from Jamaican patois as "Oral sexer, lesbian and queer must be assassinated (yeah)".

Outrage! has lobbied promoters, local councils and police to drop the two acts from the bill which also featured leading reggae stars such as Freddie McGregor, Barrington Levy, Gregory Isaacs and The Mighty Diamonds. But now organisers, that include the radio station Choice FM, have pulled the plug on the event. It was due to take place in Victoria Park in East London, but was shifted to an indoor venue for what the promoters called "technical reasons".

A statement on behalf of the organisers said: "Due to the recent negative publicity surrounding reggae music in the UK press, no alternative suitable venue could be found that was willing to take on the perceived security risk represented by Reggae In The Park." The event had been billed as Britain's biggest reggae event.

Peter Tatchell of Outrage! said: "We are delighted that Sizzla Kalonji and Vybz Kartel will not be performing, but sorry that the whole event has been axed. OutRage! has no objection to the other performers in the stage line-up, and believes the concert should have gone ahead without the two 'murder-music' singers."

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