The Metropolitan Police have gone back on a deal they were party to, in confronting gay hate reggae music. Where previously they had insisted that (as negotiated successfully with the Bradford, the Birmingham, and the Manchester police) artists such as Bounty Killer, who promote anti-gay violence in their music, would have to sign the Reggae Compassionate Act as a precondition for performing in London, they now appear to have changed their minds:
London’s police service has been criticised by gay rights activists for allowing a concert by a notoriously homophobic singer to go ahead in the city this weekend.
“We are aware of a planned concert by the artist Bounty Killer at Stratford Rex on Sunday November 23rd.
“Conferences have been held between the police, the venue’s management and the artist’s manager in order to consider the most productive way to handle the matter.
“A previous concert at the venue with the artist passed off without incident. The club have given us full access and we will deal robustly with any offences that arise.”
It is understood that Bounty Killer has given an undertaking not to perform any of his homophobic songs.
All well and good right? That’s what they want you to think. Bounty Killer (real name Rodney Price) has ‘given an undertaking’. But Peter Tatchell reminds us that there’s a double standard, and it’s in Price’s favour:
“It (the Met) allows homophobic singers to perform in London, but not racist ones.
“Racist artists are banned on the grounds that they are a threat to public order and good community relations. This is a case of double standards.
“The Met Police have previously said that murder music singers will not be allowed to perform unless they sign the RCA (Reggae Compassionate Act).
“Officers have broken their promise. They are taking the side of a singer who has promoted and celebrated the murder of gay people, and who is defying the RCA.
“A white racist singer who advocated killing black people would not be allowed to perform in London, even if he agreed to not incite the killing of black people at his concert. They have adopted this zero tolerance policy towards white racist bands like Skrewdriver.
“Yet when it comes to straight homophobic singers who urge the murder of gay people, the police take a softer stance. They have agreed to let the concert go ahead, despite their professed commitment to oppose homophobic hate crimes. It’s bare-faced hypocrisy.”
It’s a poignant reminder of how easy institutional prejudices are to commit, and how difficult it can be for those responsible to come to terms with. The Met is riddled with racism and homophobia, whatever else they would like you to believe about their effectiveness in tackling hate crimes. For them to ban white racist singers before they even sing a note because of the potential for public order offences and then not offer the same protection to potential future victims of people like Bounty Killer is homophobic; whether or not they understand that the outcome is the same. It’s hardly surprising though when they get their lead from a Home Secretary like Jacqui Smith, who believes gay asylum seekers are perfectly safe to send back to countries like Iran as long as they are ‘discreet’, and whose priorities are all wrong. Tatchell points out:
“This singer encourages and glorifies gang violence. At a time when so many young people have been murdered in gang-related gun and knife crime, it is reckless and obscene for the Home Secretary to give Bounty Killer a visa and work permit. Rewarding maladjusted thugs who incite violence sends the wrong signal.”
There is no more ardent devotee of ragga music and especially Bounty Killer than me. With his snappy “Lord have mercy” catchphrase, his distinctive gravel-edged voice and his lyrical dexterity, the self-proclaimed “Poor People’s Governor” was the soundtrack to my youth.
But as a humanist, I have no truck with hate music: the homophobic lyrics with which he has chosen to pepper his songs over the years have helped to create an ugly culture. Lyrics such as “bun a fire pon a puff and mister fagoty” and “you know we need no promo to rub out dem homo” are, quite simply, incitements to murder people because of their sexual orientation.
Some people complain that preventing Price from performing is to stifle free speech, but Tatchell reminds us:
Free speech does not include the right to incite the murder of other human beings. Such violent incitements close down free speech because the victims are intimidated into silence and invisibility.
The Swiss are able to deal with people like this, and have done quite recently too:
A reggae star who has gone back on a promise not to perform songs encouraging violence against lesbian and gay people has had a concert in Switzerland cancelled.
The performance by Capleton in Basel was due to take place on November 6th but was pulled by the organisers, according to local LGBT rights group Homosexuelle Arbeitsgruppen Basel (HABS).
HABS, together with Stop Murder Music Bern, opposed the concert because Capleton has performed songs encouraging violence against lesbian and gay people, in violation of his commitment to abide by the terms of the Reggae Compassionate Act (RCA).
They’re not alone – the Germans, the Canadians (the former instituting a ban on Sizzla entering the signatory countries to the Schengen Agreement) and other countries have all banned those in breach of the RCA from performing as well. Yet Bounty Killer actively defies the RCA and is allowed to perform in London. Just so you understand what I’m talking about, this is his act:
It seems that in the age of promoting equality and respecting diversity, the Metropolitan Police is unable to promote or respect equally – here favouring race over sexual orientation, but that should be no surprise. Peter Tatchell wrote in April this year – the last time such a shameful collusion between the police force and homophobe occurred in London:
The police seem to be letting Bounty Killer off the hook. He hasn’t signed the RCA. He dissed it. He has released songs urging the killing of gay people. Despite all this, the Met let him perform. When they act like this, how can we take seriously police claims that they are cracking down on homophobic hate crime?