Gay rights group urges boycott of Mobo awards

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The Independent Online

The gay pressure group Outrage! said last night it would lobby the BBC to abandon plans to broadcast Britain's biggest black music awards ceremony because it "rewarded" artists who promote homophobia.

The gay pressure group Outrage! said last night it would lobby the BBC to abandon plans to broadcast Britain's biggest black music awards ceremony because it "rewarded" artists who promote homophobia.

Outrage! said it would call on David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, to issue an exclusion order against two Jamaican reggae artists who have been nominated for a prize at the Music of Black Origin (Mobo) awards, which are due to take place at the Royal Albert Hall next month.

Elephant Man and Vybz Kartel are among eight reggae artists whose material has been investigated by Scotland Yard over claims that their lyrics incite violence against gay people. The Crown Prosecution Service is considering whether the performance or the promotion of the material might constitute a criminal offence.

Elephant Man had a hit in Jamaica with "We Nuh Like Gay", which includes the lyric: "Battyman fi dead! Tek dem by surprise." Another song "A Nuh Fi Wi Fault" says: "Shoot [gays] like birds".

Vybz Kartel, a rising star on the reggae scene, has recorded "Bedroom Slaughteration", with patois lyrics - "Bow cat, sodomite, batty man fi gat assassination (Yeah) Oral sexer, lesbian and queer must be assassinated (Yeah)" - that translate as "lesbians and queers must be assassinated".

Peter Tatchell, the spokesman for Outrage!, said: "By accepting the nomination of Vybz Kartel and Elephant Man, the Mobos are rewarding singers who incite the murder of lesbians and gay men."

The development comes in spite of meetings between the London Mayor, Ken Livingstone, the Metropolitan Police, gay rights groups and the Mobo organisers before the release of the nominations.

Reports yesterday had wrongly suggested that the artists involved in the Scotland Yard inquiry (the others are Beenie Man, Bounty Killer, Buju Banton, TOK, Capleton and Sizzla) would be the subject of an exclusion by the Mobos.

Outrage! said it will write to Mark Thompson, the director general of the BBC, asking for the cancellation of the broadcast of the event on 30 September.

The Mobos issued a statement yesterday expressing its opposition to homophobia. It said: "Mobo's position has been clear from the outset ... they do not condone homophobic lyrics in any way and strongly emphasised to voters for the awards on their ballot forms that the Mobos don't support music that clearly incite violence toward gay people."

It said the ceremony's stance had been a reason why Beenie Man had not been nominated. Kanya King, the founder of the Mobos, said the decision to exclude Beenie Man but include Elephant Man was a matter for its "academy" of music promoters, DJs and record industry workers who selected the nominees.

She acknowledged that Beenie Man had previously been nominated in the awards but said: "A lot of people, even British Jamaicans, had no idea what was in those lyrics."

Peter Hunnigale, a leading British reggae artist, criticised the Mobo academy for ignoring other successful reggae artists who promote a positive message in their material. "Where is Beres Hammond?" he asked. "Why doesn't Beres get an award when he is one of reggae's biggest icons?"

The controversy overshadowed the awards nominations in which the American rapper and hip-hop producer Kanye West was shortlisted for a record seven awards.

THE NOMINATIONS

Best R&B Act Alicia Keys; Beyoncé; Brandy; Lemar; Usher

Best Hip Hop G-Unit; Jay-Z; Kanye West; Outkast; Twista

Best Video Jamelia, 'See It In A Boy's Eyes'; Jay-Z, '99 Problems'; Kanye West, 'All Falls Down'; Kelis, 'Milkshake'; Ludacris, 'Stand Up'; Usher, 'Yeah'

Best Jazz Act Amy Winehouse; Jamie Cullum; Keb Mo; Norah Jones; Denys Baptiste

Best Reggae Single Sean Paul, 'Like Glue'; Vybz Kartel, 'Picture This'; Elephant Man, 'Jook Gal'; Toots & the Maytals, 'True Love'

Best Producer Kanye West; R Kelly; Timbaland; The Neptunes; Wiley

Best World Music Act Angelique Kidjo; Bebel Gilberto; Cesaria Evora; Youssou N'Dour; Daara J

Best Collaboration 2 Play feat. Raghav & Jucxi, 'So Confused'; Brandy & Kanye West, 'Talk About Our Love'; Marques Houston & Joe Budden, 'Clubbin''; Twista & Kanye West, 'Slow Jamz'; Usher & Ludacris, 'Yeah'

Best Single Jamelia, 'Thank You'; Kanye West, 'All Falls Down'; Mario Winans, 'I Don't Wanna Know'; Outkast, 'Hey Ya!'; Usher, 'Burn'

Best Album Alicia Keys, The Diary Of Alicia Keys; Jay-Z, Black Album; Joss Stone, Soul Sessions; Kanye West, College Dropout; Outkast, Speakerboxxx/ The Love Below; Usher, Confessions

Best Radio DJ Ace & Invisible (1Xtra); Gilles Peterson (R1); Jigs (Choice); Semtex (1Xtra); Shortee Blitz & Big Ted (Kiss); Spoony (R1); Steve Sutherland (Galaxy); Tim Westwood (R1); Trevor Nelson (R1); Zane Lowe (R1)

Best Club DJ Manny Norte; Matt White; Panjabi Hit Squad; Shortee Blitz; Steve Sutherland; Westwood; Rampage

UK Act of the Year Amy Winehouse; Dizzee Rascal; Jamelia; Lemar; Joss Stone; The Streets

Best Newcomer Estelle; Gemma Fox; Shystie; Taz; Wiley

Best Ringtone Black Eyed Peas, 'Where Is The Love?'; Eamon, 'F It'; Mario Winans, 'I Don't Wanna Know'; Outkast, 'Hey Ya!'; Usher, 'Yeah'

Best Gospel Act Fred Hammond; Michelle Williams; Siani; Raymond & Co

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