Protests from the gay community have led to Jamaican dancehall performer Beenie Man being dropped from January’s Big Day Out festival in Australia and New Zealand.
The performer has been a target of the international gay lobby since his late ’90s songs like "Damn" in which he sang "execute all the queers" and "Bad Man Chi Chi Man" ("Bad Man Queer Man") where he advocated the killing of gay DJs and boasted that people would gladly go to jail for killing a gay person.
Last week New Zealand’s Green Party MP and gay rights activist Kevin Hague called for New Zealand not to issue him a visa. A Facebook campaign by the Standing Up Against Beenie Man At Big Day Out 2010 group numbered 2,000. Activists warned they would disrupt his shows.
In a statement posted on Big Day Out’s Web site, promoter Creative Festival Entertainment explained that Beenie Man has renounced those early sentiments and promised not to perform those songs during his set.
"[But] the depth of feeling and hurt amongst these groups has convinced us that for us to proceed with his Big Day Out appearances was, and would continue to be, divisive amongst our audience members and would mar the enjoyment of the event for many. For this reason we have decided not to proceed," the statement said.
After the festival’s move, the Jamaican performer again repudiated those songs in an email send to the media. He said they had been written about "the exploitation of poor and defenceless young boys in the garrison – where I too was born – by rich men. I realise that those men were not gays, but were predators or paedophiles, which is not a common word in my dialect – hence the perception when generalising. I am older and realised the difference after."
He concluded, "Our world is an interesting place filled with variety and we all have to respect others no matter what race, choices, culture or lifestyle. I am not a supporter of hatred and never was."
Big Day Out will stage six shows in Australia and New Zealand Jan. 15 to 31 to an expected audience of 300,000. Among the acts performing are Muse, Lily Allen, Devendra Bahart, Dizzee Rascal and multiplatinum local acts Powderfinger, Grinspoon and Jet.