Internet reports say that New Zealand MP Kevin Hague was among those objecting to the inclusion of the King of the Dancehall based on his anti-gay lyrics. Hague noted that hate-mongering is not welcome in New Zealand, and reportedly urged the Big Day Out to uninvite Beenie.
"Music is a powerful shaper of culture, values, attitudes and behaviour," said Hague. "Music that denigrates gay men and lesbians in the most extreme way imaginable sends some very powerful signals both to young gay and lesbian people but also to their peers. It is not true that 'sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me'.
"Hate speech like that of Beenie Man gives permission to prejudice and discrimination and creates it where it didn't previously exist. It blights and diminishes the lives of all who are exposed to it, most particularly young lesbian and gay people who suffer violence, harassment, lowered self-esteem and all the consequent health and social problems."
Gay rights groups had petitioned festival organisers to drop him from the line-up, saying his songs incited violence.
Lyrics include "I'm dreaming of a new Jamaica, come to execute all the gays", while another song suggests lesbians should be hanged.
The promoters had said in a previous release that they were aware of Beenie Man's controversial past, but he had renounced those feelings and was now promoting "peaceful and humanistic values".
However, a release posted yesterday said, "The depth of feeling and hurt amongst these groups has convinced us that for us to proceed with his Big Day Out appearances was, and would continue to be, divisive among our audience members and would mar the enjoyment of the event for many."
Beenie Man, as is the norm, could not be reached for comment.
A statement from Big Day Out confirmed his appearances had been cancelled because they would "mar" the event for many.
It said: "Although aware of the controversial nature of Beenie Man and his previous lyrics that have caused offence with the gay and lesbian and wider community, the producers understood that the artist had renounced these sentiments and no longer expresses those views.
"Notwithstanding claims of a commitment to the Reggae Compassionate Act which he signed in 2007 and a promise of adherence to peaceful and humanistic values for the dates here by Beenie Man, the depth of feeling and hurt amongst these groups has convinced us that for us to proceed with his Big Day Out appearances was, and would continue to be, divisive amongst our audience members and would mar the enjoyment of the event for many.
"For this reason we have decided not to proceed."
According to gay UK group OutRage!, Beenie Man later denied signing the act and denounced it.
Peter Tatchell, who had written to festival organisers to urge them to drop him, said: "These concert cancellations will hit Beenie Man hard in the pocket. He has lost tens of thousands of dollars.
"The success of this campaign sends a warning message to all murder music artists: inciting homophobic violence will cost you money. You will lose out big time."
SOURCE: JAMAICAOBSERVER, pinknews.co.uk
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