Demand diversity training for anti-gay reggae singers

Queen Ifrica (Photo courtesy of Urban Islandz)
Queen Ifrica (Photo courtesy of Urban Islandz)

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.

I-Wayne (Photo courtesy of CaribbeanNewYorker.com)
I-Wayne (Photo courtesy of CaribbeanNewYorker.com)

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:

  1.  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).
  2. Publicly denounce their anti-gay songs.
  3. 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!

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. After his retirement from paid newspaper work in 2011, he launched Erasing 76 Crimes and helped with the Spirit of 76 campaign that assembled a multi-national team of 26 LGBTI rights activists to advocate for change during the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July 2012. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him via Twitter @76crimes or by email at info@76crimes.com. Mailing address: 21 Marseille, Laguna Niguel CA 92677 USA.

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