Sponsors of the Edmonton Reggae Festival in Edmonton, Canada, are under pressure to drop three headliners from their Sept. 5 schedule because of anti-LGBT statements and songs. The Calgary International Reggae Festival has already barred Queen Ifrica, Capleton and I-Wayne from performing because of their anti-LGBTQ comments, CBC News reported. In 2013, Toronto’s Rastafest removed Queen Ifrica from its lineup after complaints about her anti-gay position.
Jamaican activist Maurice Tomlinson has the following suggestions for what the three artists should be required to do before performing in Canada:
How to treat (the few) anti-gay Jamaican performers
Concert touring season is now in full swing and Jamaican reggae singers are being booked to headline shows all over the world. A controversy has erupted over three performers booked to headline the Edmonton Reggae Festival, because these individuals have track-records of virulently anti-gay material.
Like most Jamaicans, our musicians were raised in an anti-gay society largely influenced by imported fundamentalist Christian rhetoric. A few have therefore produced homophobic songs that reflect their taught prejudices. All these musicians have a right to freedom of speech and to earn a living.
In order to respect both these rights, and the rights of others, I propose that these artistes be required to do the following before being booked, or allowed to perform:
- Be certified as undergoing diversity training (this is currently being delivered by groups such as J-FLAG [the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays] and CVC [the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition] on the island).
- Publicly denounce their anti-gay songs.
- Publicly declare respect for the human rights of ALL people.
Jamaican music has historically been about love. We should not let a few misguided performers tarnish our country’s great musical tradition of ONE LOVE!
- Anti-LGBTQ artists headline Edmonton Reggae Festival (July 7, 2015, The Gauntlet, student newspaper of the University of Calgary)
- Fans and sponsors abandon reggae festival over anti-gay song lyrics (July 9, 2015, CBC News)
- Edmonton Reggae Festival sponsors suspend support (July 9, 2015, Edmonton Journal)
- Jamaica: No tax money for reggae singers’ homophobia (August 2013, 76crimes.com)
- Canada was right to nix tax-funded Jamaican hate (August 2013, 76crimes.com)
- LGBT envoy heads to Jamaica amid plans for Pride (May 2015, 76crimes.com)
- Jamaica’s major newspaper backs LGBTI rights (June 2015, 76crimes.com)
- Progress in Jamaica toward ‘world as it should be’ (June 2015, 76crimes.com)