Police Say Reggae Hate Is a Crime

Officers want action against singers, record companies, retailers, websites and radio stations.

HMV and Virgin record stores, BBC Radio 1Xtra, and the BBC and Amazon websites, could face prosecution.

London – UK – 10 November 2003


Three top Jamaican reggae artists whose songs advocate the murder of gay people are committing a crime, and people who promote and distribute their songs are aiding and abetting criminal offences.

This is the conclusion of the police officer in charge of investigating the prosecution bid by the queer human rights group, OutRage!

Detective Chief Inspector Clive Driscoll of the Diversity Directorate at New Scotland Yard has told OutRage!: “The transcript of the CD, in my opinion, does show offences”.

The three singers under investigation are Elephant Man, Bounty Killer and Beenie Man. Their songs variously urge the shooting, burning and drowning of gay people. All three singers are Jamaican but their records are widely distributed in the UK and other countries.

Driscoll is now seeking the agreement of the Crown Prosecution Service to take action against not only the singers and their record companies, but also against high street record stores HMV and Virgin, BBC Radio 1Xtra, and the BBC and Amazon websites. He says they are distributing and promoting CDs inciting homophobic violence and murder.

Driscoll is also considering the possibility of liaising with the Jamaican police and government over legal action in Jamaica against the singers and their Jamaican-based record companies.

Driscoll agrees with OutRage! that charges could be bought in Britain under the Public Order Act 1986, the common law offences of incitement and conspiracy to murder, and under the solicitation to murder clause of the Offences Against The Person Act 1861.

His conclusion follows a five-week police investigation, which involved purchasing sample copies of the violence-inciting songs from retailers, and downloading excerpts of the songs from websites.

Sample CDs were purchased from HMV in Tottenham Court Road and from the Virgin store in Bromley. On police instruction, the CD lyrics have been translated from Jamaican patois to standard English by an independent linguistic expert.

The translations confirm the lyrics advocate extreme homophobic violence and murder – including the shooting, burning and drowning of gay people.

“We hope the Crown Prosecution Service will back the police and authorise prosecutions,” said Peter Tatchell of OutRage!

“It is disturbing that the CPS recently postponed a meeting with senior police officers to discuss the case. There is no excuse for delay. The gay community has every right to expect swift and effective justice”.

Reggae incitement to murder lyrics – key samples

Beenie Man’s track Damn boasts: “I’m dreaming of a new Jamaica, come to execute all the gays”.

The song, Nuh Fi Wi Fault, by Elephant Man, declares: “Battyman fi dead!./ Gimme tha tech-9 (gun)/Shoot dem like bird”.

Bounty Killer’s hit, Another Level, exhorts: “Bun (burn) a fire pon.mister
fagoty./Poop man fi drown”.

Jamaican gay group backs OutRage! campaign

The OutRage! campaign to prosecute reggae singers who urge the shooting, burning and drowning of gay people is backed black gay organisations, such as the Jamaican gay human rights group, J-FLAG, and by the UK black gay website, www.blackgayuk.com.

J-FLAG, says: “These lyrics perpetuate a culture of hatred and violence. This music sells; it also kills”.

J-FLAG reports a wave of homophobic assaults and murders coinciding with the release of anti-gay records, with many of the victims being shot, macheted, stoned, set ablaze and chased into the sea and left to drown.

OutRage’s original letter of complaint to the Metropolitan Police

Commander Steve Allen

Diversity Directorate

New Scotland Yard

The Broadway

London SW1H OBG

18 September 2003

Dear Commander Steve Allen,

Prosecution of reggae artists who incite homophobic assaults and murder

The lesbian and gay human rights group OutRage! welcomes the commitment made by the Crown Prosecution Service in February, and by the Metropolitan Police in April, to crack down on homophobic hate crimes.

We therefore hope you will act swiftly and decisively to arrest and bring charges against

reggae singers Elephant Man, Bounty Killer and Beenie Man. The lyrics of several of their songs variously abuse, menace and threaten lesbians and gays; goad and glorify the beating, shooting and burning of homosexuals; and incite acts of homophobic asault and murder.

These songs are available in or via many high street record stores and websites.

Details of these singer’s violent, threatening anti-gay lyrics follow below, together with their record company information.

Urgent action is required.

These three singers have been nominated as the “Best Reggae Act” at the MOBO Awards ceremony in London, which is being held at the Royal Albert Hall on 25 September 2003.

If they travel to London to attend the MOBO Awards, we urge you to arrest and charge them.

If they do not attend the MOBOS, we urge you to liaise with the Jamaican police to secure their arrest and prosecution – either in the Jamaican courts or, via an arrest warrant and extradition order, in the courts of this country.

Our primary objection is not to the general homophobic tone of these singer’s songs – though such bigoted attitudes are, indeed, lamentable – but to their specific, explicit encouragement of violent attacks on lesbians and gay men.

In a democratic society people have a right to criticise homosexuality. This right does not, however, include advocating queer-bashing violence and murder.

There are at least three possible charges that could be bought against the three singers:

They could be prosecuted under Sections 4 or 5 of the Public Order Act 1986, or under the common law offence of incitement to violence and murder, or under Section 4 of the Offences Against The Person Act 1861.

1) According to Section 4 (1) (a), a person is guilty of a criminal offence if he “uses towards another person threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour.whereby that person is likely to believe that such violence will be used or it is likely that such violence will be provoked”.

And according to Section 5 (1) (a) of the same Act, a person is guilty of a criminal offence if he “uses threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour.within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress thereby”.

2) According to the common law offence of incitement, a person is guilty of a criminal offence if he encourages, advocates or urges any violent act – including assault or murder – against another person.

3) According to Section 4 – the solicitation to murder clause – of the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 it is a crime to advocate, incite, encourage or promote acts of murder. It was under this clause that the Muslim cleric, Abdullah el-Faisal was convicted at the Old Bailey on 24 February 2003 of soliciting the murder of Jews, Hindus, Americans and non-believers. He was convicted even though neither a prospective assailant nor a prospective victim was identified. This precedent demonstrates that general threats made against groups of people can be successfully prosecuted under UK law.

We also believe the charges should be bought against those who disseminate songs advocating homophobic violence:

The record companies and retailers who produce and distribute these incitements to assault and murder could be prosecuted under the above laws or under the common law offences of conspiracy and aiding and abetting the commission of the afore-mentioned crimes.

In an Oral Answer to Lord Avebury on 18 December 2002, Lord Falconer, then Solicitor-General, stated his legal opinion:

“To solicit or incite another to commit a crime (through, for example, homophobic song lyrics) is indictable under common law, even if the solicitation or incitement has no effect. Therefore a crime would not actually need to be committed to convict people of incitement to violence against homosexual people”.

The Attorney-General, Lord Goldsmith, concurs. He responded to a letter from Lord Avebury concerning the possibility of prosecuting reggae singers who incite violence against lesbians and gay men. His reply, dated 16 December 2002, advised of the possibility of charges under the public order laws and the legislation against threats and incitement to kill.

The authority of these two most senior legal officers in the land suggests that there is, indeed, a legitimate and compelling case for charges and proceedings to commence.

Note: Batty man and chi chi man are abusive, insulting Jamaican slang words used to denigrate gay men. They are the equivalent of pejorative words like queer, faggot, poof and bender. Bun means burn in patiois.

These tracks and albums are available for purchase online via www.amazon.co.uk – which is where we found the publishing details.

Some of the tracks are available on the shelves at HMV and Virgin record stores in central London, or can be ordered via these stores.

The action we seek from the Metropolitan Police:

We request the Metropolitan Police to arrest and bring charges of incitement to violence, and/or incitement to murder, and /or solicitation to murder, and/or public disorder through the use of threatening, abusive or insulting words, and/or conspiracy to threaten, assault or murder.

These charges should be laid variously against the following persons and/or businesses (where necessary, in cooperation with your counterparts in the Jamaican police service):

The singers: Elephant Man, Bounty Killer and Beenie Man

The record labels: Artists Only Records, VP, Octave, Greensleeves, Shanachie, Jet Star and Tvt

The record retailers: Amazon, HMV and Virgin

We would appreciate your consideration and response at the earliest opportunity.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Tatchell

OutRage! – campaigning for lesbian and gay human rights

Violently homophobic reggae lyrics – with translations

Under each line of Jamaican patois is the English translation. In brackets
are relevant explanations.

The song, Nuh Fi Wi Fault, by Elephant Man boasts:

Battyman fi dead!
Queers are to be killed

Please mark we word
Please mark my words

Gimme tha tech-nine
Give me the Tech-9 (machine gun)

Shoot dem like bird
Shoot them (queers) like birds

Another Elephant Man track, We Nuh Like Gay, goes:

Battyman fi dead! Tek dem by surprise
Queers are to be killed, take them by surprise

Ghetta in shot head, cau me big gun collide.
Get them shot in the head because we have the big guns (to shoot them)

Gimme me Tech-9, General B wid de chrome an waa shine/
Give me the Tech-9 (type of gun) with the chrome and the shine

Harry Toddler shot out ah bugger-man
Shoot all queer men

Elephant Man’s song, Log On, celebrates setting fire to a gay person and
stamping on their body:

Log on and step pon chi chi man
Log on and step on a queer man
(Log on is a type of dance using the right foot in a stepping motion as if
to squash a cock roach or insect – the dance lyric boasts about stepping on

Dance wi a dance and a bun out a freaky man.
Join our dance to burn out the queer man

Step pon him like a old cloth
Step on him like an old cloth

A dance wi a dance and a crush out dem.
Join our dance and crush them (queers)
(further emphasis to invite participants to do the dance)

Do di walk, mek mi see the light and di torch dem fass
Do the walk, make us see the light and torch the queers fast

Another Level, featuring Bounty Killer with Babycham, says:

Bun a fire pon a kuh pon mister fagoty (Uh huh)
Burn a fire and kill Mr queer

Cocky deh yah suh fi wheel unda Dorothy (Uh huh)
The cock is to be used under Dorothy (a girl)

Ears ah ben up and a wince under agony
Ears are bending and the girl is wincing with agony

Poop man fi drown a dat a yawd man philosophy (Uh huh)
Queer men who have anal sex should be drowned and that’s a yardy man

Beenie Man’s hit tune, Bad Man Chi Chi Man (Bad Man, Queer Man), instructs
listeners to kill gay DJs (bad man chi chi man means bad queers):

If yuh nuh chi chi (queer) man wave yuh right hand and (NO!!!)
If you are not gay wave your right hand and

If yuh nuh lesbian wave yuh right hand and (NO!!!)
If you are not a lesbian wave your right hand and

Some bwoy will go a jail fi kill man tun bad man chi chi man!!!
Some boys will go to jail for killing a man and then turn into a queer

Tell mi, sumfest it should a be a showdown
Tell me if Sumfest (summerfest reggae festival) should close down

Yuh seem to run off a stage like a clown (Kill Dem DJ!!!)
You see him run off the stage like a clown (Kill that DJ!!!)

Bounty Killer’s Mr. Wanna Be includes the lyrics:
(This song refers to the rivalry between Beenie Man and Bounty Killer)

Hear this likkle punk guh sing a battyman concert
Hear this little boy going to sing at queer concert

Seh him hood Beenie, a deh suh mi object
Say he’s done Beenie damage and he (Bounty Killer) does not object

And him guh pon Mirage, and guh dis-respect.
And he went to Mirage (a former night club) and showed disrespect (toward
Bounty Killer)

War mi start dat by reservation and request
War is going to start by reservation and request

To kill dis yah fool, to me dat is no stress
To kill this fool, to me that is no stress

Murder dem fast just like a Federal Express
Murder them fast just like Federal Express

And mi run wild west
And I run the wild west (cowboy reference)