Commissioner of Police Ausbert Regis has no doubt received a letter about an upcoming concert in St Lucia. The letter calls for the police to watch closely a scheduled performance on May 5 by Sizzla Kalonji, a Jamaican reggae singer. The concert is to be held at the Gaiety Grounds in Rodney Bay. The letter sent first to the STAR by Marcus Day, Caribbean Drug Abuse Research Institute director, and then by Akim Adé Larcher, AA, LLB, suggests that Sizzla promotes violence against homosexuals.
The STAR spoke with Day and Larcher briefly yesterday and they explained that the letter had been forwarded by email to many others and they had been asked to show their support by passing it on. Up till yesterday the letter had been forwarded to the STAR via twenty different emails. Following is the text of said letter:
An open letter to the Minister of National Security
In these days of crime and excessive violence in the community, I write to you with deep concern about the upcoming performance by the controversial reggae artist Miguel Orlando Collins, also known as “Sizzla” Kalonji. Sizzla will be in Saint Lucia on 5th May 2007 to perform at a concert in Gros-Islet under the promotion of Gaiety Productions and in collaboration with TriStar Promotions.
This performer has repeatedly urged his listeners to kill gay people. His current album, Red Alert (2004), includes the song Boom Boom, which says: “Queers must be killed.” Another, Pump Up, says: “Shoot queers.” At a concert, in Chicago in April 2002, Sizzla appeared to boast to his audience that he has personally murdered homosexuals: “I kill sodomites and queers, they bring AIDS and disease upon people . . . shoot and kill them”.
The lyrics of three Sizzla songs listed below call for the capital murder of gay people and are at the very least, likely to be considered swearing, abusive or indecent language in public––all of which are criminal offences under the Criminal Code of St Lucia.
In 2004, The UK Home Office declined to issue Sizzla a visa to perform in the UK and he was investigated by Scotland Yard’s Racial & Violent Crime Task Force after a complaint was filed. Possible charges under UK law included inciting the assault and murder of gay people, and/or charges of causing harassment, alarm or distress. As a result of much public pressure many concerts were cancelled across Europe and the United States. Sizzla was subsequently denied a visa to enter Britain on November 1, by immigration officers at Heathrow Airport for his UK tour.
As a concerned citizen, I call upon the Commissioner of the Police to play particular attention to this delicate legal matter. We also request the police to warn Gaiety Productions and TriStar Promotions that they may be guilty of aiding and abetting criminal offences by promoting and giving a platform to Sizzla, especially if he performs any of his violently homophobic songs on May 5. If the promoters are unable to give assurances that these violent criminal tracks will not be performed, we urge the Royal St Lucia Police Force to insist that Sizzla’s concert is cancelled and that all ticket sales arehalted. We expect the laws of St Lucia to be upheld.
Only sub-Saharan Africa has a higher HIV infection rate than the Caribbean and statistics note that heterosexual sex is the main way of transmitting the virus in the region. As a result of the anti-gay lyrics, artistes like Sizzla continue to perpetuate the stereotype that HIV/AIDS is a gay man’s illness and as a result help promote a discriminatory and violent environment for gay men in the Caribbean.
A notable speaker at a CARICOM conference said that: “A number of artistes are effectively contributing to the spread of HIV by producing reggae and rap songs actually encouraging discrimination”. In allowing an artiste such as Sizzla to make such discriminatory statements in public, we believe it discredits the hard work of the Ministry of Health and the Aids Action Foundation (AAF) in their relentless effort to educate the public on safe sex and HIV/AIDS prevention.
I believe in free speech, however, in a democracy like St Lucia no one should be able to incite murder or violence through hate crimes against minorities. This goes against the Criminal Code. I hope you can reassure me that action will be taken.
Caption: Could Sizzla’s controversial lyrics cause problems for show promoters?