U.S. Gay Groups Need To Listen

German promoter Klaus Maack says getting dancehall reggae acts to sign a paper saying they won’t sing homophobic lyrics has been a great success in Europe, but feels gay rights groups worldwide need to make sure they keep their side of the bargain and stop protests at their shows.

On the day before the September 6 meeting of black music promoters and leading gay activists – one of a series of pow-wows on how to stop homophobic lyrics – he told Pollstar that gay rights activist Peter Tatchell needs to make sure there’s better communication among the gay rights groups.

He cited planned protests outside the August 25 Reggae Carifest at New York’s Randall’s Island, which were organised despite the fact the city parks department got the performers – including Buju Banton and Bounty Killer – to sign a code of conduct agreeing to refrain from performing anti-gay lyrics, similar to the one European gay rights groups are happy to accept.

"We’ve kept our side of the bargain and we’ve been successful in getting the acts to sign to say they won’t sing unacceptable lyrics, but the rights groups must do more to make sure they’re communicating with each other and that they’re all following the same code," Maack explained.

"We’re obviously going to address this in a polite way because the agreement has been a success throughout Europe and we’re stamping out offensive lyrics, but we also have to be firm about it because some U.S. gay rights groups either aren’t aware of what’s going on or are acting entirely of their own accord."

The agreement is known as The Compassionate Act. Signing it commits an artist to "respect and uphold the rights of all individuals to live without violence due to their religion, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity or gender."

In return, Tatchell and his Stop Murder Music campaigners agree there will be no gay rights demonstrations around the shows or media campaigns against them.

New York reggae shows including one at Webster Hall with Beenie Man and TOK have been scrapped in the face of seemingly orchestrated bad publicity.

Apart from Maack and Tatchell, others expected to attend the September 6 meeting at London’s Victoria Park Plaza Hotel included U.K. urban music promoter Eddie Brown (Pride Music), French agent Michel Jovanovic (Mediacom), U.K. promoter Bagga John, Sundance Festival promoter Peter Senders and Dennis Carney, head of the U.K.’s Black Gay Men’s Advisory Group.