Last edited: February 08, 2005

Murder Music Campaign Suspended as Truce Offered to Gay Activists U.K., February 7, 2005

By Ben Townley

The campaign against music that incites violence towards lesbian and gay people could be on the verge of halting today, after organisers agreed to a new partnership with representatives of the reggae industry.

The ceasefire comes after a long running and high profile campaign against many dancehall and reggae stars that are accused of calling for the killing of lesbians and gay men through their song lyrics.

In the past 12 months, it has already resulted in cancelled tours, revoked award nominations and the threat of prosecution.

The deal will see those organisations involved in the Stop Murder Music coalition (SMM) creating a framework for “conflict resolution” with key players in the reggae music industry.

These will include concert promoters and independent labels.

The halt will be a tentative one though, with members of SMM admitting they will relaunch their campaign should the agreement be breached. However, they have pledged to recognise the work being done to move forward on the debate of homophobia within song lyrics.

“This is the first step in an important process” said the Black Gay Men’s Advisory Group’s Dennis Carney today.

“We welcome this framework agreement and are suspending the Stop Murder Music campaign,” Outrage’s Brett Lock added.

“We are giving the singers and the music industry an opportunity to draw a line under the promotion of lyrics that incite violence against lesbians and gay men.”

Artists involved in the campaign have apparently committed themselves to not making anti-gay comments in public, and subsequently not inciting violence towards lesbian and gay people.

However, one campaigner has said the fight is not yet over.

Brighton’s Green City Councillor and long time supporter of the SMM’s campaign Simon Williams, says record stores must also be involved in the stand off and should withdraw the offending albums.

He has already written to the major chains in Brighton calling for them to do so, but has so far received no response.

“This agreement between some record production companies, their artists and the Stop Murder Music Coalition, is a step forward in the wider campaign against murder music,” he said today.

“However, the agreement does not affect the retail sector.”

“The big stores still refuse to agree to take music off-sale containing lyrics that incite the murder—including the hanging, burning and shooting of gay people and other groups in a city with a large lesbian and gay community,” he said, adding that as well as change in the retail sector, the government must also oversee better protection for LGBT people.

“The long-term solution is for the Government to introduce legislation to protect all groups from incitement to hatred. But, before that happens, the big record stores should take a moral lead and withdraw from sale the small minority of tracks with murder lyrics that they promote and sell.”

The gay councillor has now pledged to continue fighting the record shops in Brighton and across the rest of the UK.

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