Gay Protest Mars Reggae Carifest 2007

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by Olimatta Taal

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Approximately 50 gays protested the annual Reggae Carifest held this Saturday in New York because Buju Banton and Bounty Killer were billed for the show. The City Parks Department said in a statement prior to the event that all performers signed a code of conduct agreeing to refrain from performing anti-gay lyrics, at the promoter’s request.

As a result of the pressure from the gay rights activist, Power 105.1, owned by radio giant Clear Channel Communications Inc. withdrew their sponsorship from the show. Glaad said in a statement that, "It is unacceptable for Clear Channel, the concert promoters,
and the other sponsors to provide these performers with a platform to promote messages that put lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people in harm's way."

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Buju Banton has responded to the protest and has branded gay rights protesters at the New York Reggae Festival as "Stupid and ignorant even though they claim to be intelligent." He insists that his messages are not anti-gay and criticized those who slammed his billing at the event.

According to Tokes Osuba from Gay Men of African Descent, "The festival was not well attended. The artistes were muted against their performance and this is a victory for the community. We are advocating sanity and safety in America and must stand up against murder music. Buju Banton and Beenie Man advocate the murder of gays.!

Since the signing of the Reggae Compassionate Act, one would wonder why the organized protest since all parties have reached an agreement? Osuba explains, "These artists are speaking on three sides of their mouths. When approached by people about the Compassionate Act, they denied ever signing it. To them admitting that they signed this pact is a sign of weakness. One of the artist even said that his signature was forged."

Osuba continues, "So as long as they continue to perform the songs, we will continue to confront them where ever they appear. We won't allow them to continue to make money off the back of lesbian and gay people. Everyone has a right to do or say what they want to say, free speech. But we also have a right to defend ourselves and the words they espouse provoke people to be violent."

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