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Artistes not 'compassionate' to the act - Reggae artistes want clauses changed

Veteran reggae singer Freddie McGregor says the Reggae Compassionate Act should be revised. - file

Teino Evans, Staff Reporter

While it has been reported that reggae stars, Beenie Man, Sizzla and Capleton have all signed the Reggae Compassionate Act, which renounces homophobia and violence against lesbians and gays, other artistes have shown no compassion for the act, as they say it is not representative of their music and/or beliefs and therefore will not sign.

"It don't affect me, dat don't represent me. A nuff show me do an nuh sign it yet, dem ting a jus fi suppress di music. Me is a yout from morning mi mek my message very clear. Rastafari is the ruler of the world, Compassionate Act deh pon dem own," singer Tarrus Riley said.


Freddy McGregor, one of the more established reggae artistes in the business says his biggest problem with the act is that it is misleading and misinformed.

"Di part a it weh me nuh really into is that dah act deh haffi guh re-write. Jamaica has developed two genres of music, reggae and dancehall. Wi all embrace dancehall, because is a part of our culture, but di problem is dat it seems like every time there is a problem wid di dancehall community, dem waan get reggae involved an eradicate. But there is no reggae artiste signature there, and mi nuh hear nuh gay a advocate 'gainst we. Me want dem people deh fi first an foremost change di word 'reggae' to 'dancehall'," he says.

The section of the act that McGregor is referring to reads, 'We the artistes of the reggae community, hereby present this letter as a symbol of our dedication to guiding principles of reggae's enduring foundation, 'one love'. Throughout time, reggae has been recognised as a healing remedy and an agent of positive social change. We will continue this proud and righteous tradition.'

McGregor says, "Dem haffi mek a differentiation, cause dat would a include me inna di ting, an me an my peers nuh have no bangarang wid nobody suh how we a get drawn in? It look like a deliberate ploy fi get rid a reggae an a from long time dem a try."

As it relates to the dancehall artistes who have already signed, McGregor says, "If di artiste dem really sign dis ting, dem a guh back pon dem original word, cause dem done did come out a hit out hard against di gay and lesbian community, suh fi buil up di whole vibe an now come back come apologize, it really nuh mek nuh sense."

International dancehall group T.O.K says they are by no means compassionate towards such an Act either, as they feel it is not representative of them and have therefore come up with their own contract.

Craig T says, "while we do agree with some of the statements made in the Reggae Compassionate Act, it is not a hundred per cent representative of the group (TOK) and we refuse to put our signature to anything we will not abide by," he said.

Members of T.O.K say they feel they were being forced into something. Bay C says, "I never like the fact that they were already attacking us about it even before we signed or knew about it. Is like they were trying to pressure us into signingÉan wi nuh compassionate."

However, Craig T says, it's not that they are rejecting the Act, "I wouldn't say reject, but revise."

A section of T.O.K's revised Act reads, 'It is the view of T.O.K, and we are confident that several members of the reggae community and the worldwide musical community would agree, that in addition to the many positive beliefs outlined in the document to which we subscribe, the right to freedom of speech and artistic expression is of equal importance and should not be marginalized.'

It continued, 'T.O.K therefore sees the 'Reggae Compassionate Act' not as a definitive document on these issues, but as a doorway to greater dialogue, where all points of view on the issues raised therein can be heard and respected without the fear of sanctionÉ'

Flexx, however had a few harsh words for those artistes who have already signed this Act. "Even the fact that some artistes already sign it, wi need fi come together an have one voice, cause a dat dem a use, wi disunity," he said.

The Reggae Compassionate Act was a deal brokered with top reggae promoters and Stop Murder Music activists, which required that 'Artistes of the Reggae Community respect and uphold the rights of all individuals to live without fear of hatred and violence due to their religion, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity or gender.'

June 29, 2007

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