Sizzla debate sizzlin': Sizzlin’ hot

Sizzlin’ hot

The debate continues on whether or not Sizzla's show goes on

The British gay rights group OutRage!, which has successfully lobbied for the cancellation of concerts across Europe and the USA by anti-gay reggae performers like Beenie Man and Buju Banton, has joined Montreal activists fighting to have anti-gay reggae performer Sizzla’s August 27 Montreal concert at The Medley cancelled.

"We urge campaigners to lobby Montreal MPs and city councillors, the venue management, police, Justice Ministry officials and sponsors to get the concert cancelled under hate crime and public order legislation," Peter Tatchell of OutRage! said in a prepared statement circulated on the listserv of ÉGALE, Canada’s national gay rights lobby group. "If this concert goes ahead, it is likely to lead to public disorder and may result in violence against lesbians and gays."

In last week’s Hour cover story, Sizzla said, "We won’t tolerate homosexuals, we won’t tolerate lesbians. Lesbians and faggots, how did they came? They came through man and woman, mother and father, the guardians of life. The artists won’t stop [singing anti-gay lyrics] because the people won’t stop, because [anti-gay sentiment] is a tradition. We must keep the covenant of the most [high] and give thanks and praise."

Sizzla also said, "Burn sodomite, burn battyman… We must get rid of Sodom and Gomorrah right now."

Montreal-based Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations (CRARR) is lobbying to have Sizzla’s concert cancelled.

"We’re waiting for a legal opinion as to whether what Sizzla said last week [in Hour] constitutes a violation of the hate propaganda section of the Criminal Code," says CRARR executive director Fo Niemi. "The other question is we’re looking for a gay person to file a civil rights complaint with the Quebec Human Rights Commission, which we would file on their behalf."

CRARR has asked federal Immigration Minister Judy Sgro to bar Sizzla from entering Canada, and requests have been made to NDP MP Libby Davies and PQ leader Gilles Duceppe to follow up with Sgro. But Sizzla concert promoter Cezar Brumeanu told Hour this week that the show will go on.

"Sizzla has his visa, he has a clean police record and he signed a waiver saying he won’t sing lyrics that will incite violence against any type of group," Brumeanu says. "Sizzla also reserves his freedom of speech opinion on it [against gays and lesbians] but will not [use it to] incite violence."

Laurent McCutcheon, president of the Montreal gay rights group Gai Écoute, told Hour this week, "We live in a country with charters of rights and freedoms that protect us from discrimination and we should not accept that people will say discriminatory things against gays and lesbians. It’s hateful and we cannot accept this in our society. But if Sizzla already has his visa, it seems it is too late to do anything in this case beyond publicly denouncing his homophobic remarks."

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