The Jamaican reggae industry will refuse to release records or stage concerts featuring homophobic content after striking a deal with gay rights campaigners.

In return for the concession, gay rights groups represented by the STOP MURDER MUSIC COALITION will cease their campaigns against stars like SIZZLA and Beenie Man, which have led to a series of live shows and appearances being cancelled.

A verbal agreement was reached with reggae record labels who represent the eight major artists whose calls for gay men to be attacked sparked controversy.

But the artists - Sizzla, Elephant Man, Beenie Man, Bounty Killer, BUJU BANTON, CAPLETON, TOK and VYBZ KARTEL - took no part in the negotiations, which also saw the labels agree not to re-release any anti-gay songs.

GLEN YEARWOOD, a media consultant representing the reggae industry, says, "The reggae industry will work with the artists while still maintaining their freedom of speech and artistic freedom. We'll advise them (homophobia) is not the way forward in a civilised society."

Stop Murder Music Coalition spokesman MR LOCK adds, "The main players in the dancehall reggae industry will attempt to regulate the industry themselves to ensure that there aren't any violently homophobic or gay-bashing lyrics in the future.

"As a gesture of good faith, the Stop Murder Music Coalition has agreed to suspend our aggressive campaigning against murder music. So we shall not be picketing concerts or calling for prosecutions to give the industry the space to regulate and reform itself."

08/02/2005 17:46