With Toronto in the middle of Pride Week, Jamaican dancehall singer Fireman Capleton, known for violently anti-gay lyrics, has had to move his Canada Day concert from downtown Toronto to Brampton, after criticism from the gay community.
According to Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail on June 30, With songs alluding to fierce violence against homosexuals, the singer was originally booked to perform at the Sound Academy, the waterfront concert venue. According to Catherine Fowler, a spokeswoman for the venue, “we were unaware of the nature of the lyrics of this artist” when Capleton was originally booked by an outside promoter.
Sound Academy was contacted by the gay-rights advocacy group Egale Canada, which also alerted Toronto’s police hate-crimes unit. Capleton, whose music regularly extols Rastafarian tenants of purity and individual rights, nevertheless includes references to such violent acts as “bun out ah chi chi/blood out ah chi chi,” referring to burning and bleeding a homosexual.
For years, Capleton and a number of other dancehall artists, such as Buju Banton, Sizzla and Beenie Man, have faced protests by gay-rights organizations. In 2007, Capleton signed the Reggae Compassionate Act, condemning homophobia. Yet reports and video clips indicate he has continued to trade off of anti-gay sentiment as a way to hype performances.
Ms. Fowler from Sound Academy said that the venue was already considering cancelling the show before meeting with hate-crimes officers Thursday morning and confirming the cancellation.
No one was available at Rozz Entertainment late Thursday for comment. Helen Kennedy, Egale Canada’s executive director, said her organization will continue to condemn the planned performance and will remain in contact with the hate-crimes unit.
EGALE Canada has released a statement on June 30th:
Egale Canada commends Toronto's Sound Academy for taking the initiative to cancel a concert for anti-gay dancehall artist Capleton. Initially scheduled to perform in Toronto on the eve of Pride, Sound Academy has pulled the plug on Capleton's venomous homophobia.
"Capleton" (Clifton G. Bailey) has openly advocated, encouraged and glorified violence against and murder of gays and lesbians. His anti-gay dancehall tracks include lyrics such as: "All queers and sodomites should be killed," "Yow, string them up and hang them up alive."
The news of the cancellation follows a swift response from members of the LGBT community in the days leading up to the event. "We are extremely glad that Sound Academy has listened to the voices of the LGBT community and shown respect by pulling the plug on Capleton," said Helen Kennedy, Executive Director of Egale Canada.