In this section, I will provide information found on the Internet connected to homophobia depicted in dancehall music
plus the evolution of the topic in the Caribbean context from 1976 to present time
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1864: The Sodomy law in Jamaica
Old British law dating from the nineteenth century (1864): Article 76 of the Jamaican Offences Against the Person Act punishes the “abominable crime of buggery” by up to ten years imprisonment with hard labour. Article 79 of the same act punishes any act of physical intimacy between men in public or private by a term of imprisonment of up to two years and the possibility of hard labour. This law is still in effect in Jamaica. Reviewing colonial laws, Jeremy Seabrook wrote: 'lyrics inciting attacks on gay men, raises once more the tangled relationship between homophobia and the legacy of colonialism. In Jamaica, the offences of buggery and gross indecency were framed in the Offences Against the Person Act of 1864, derived from the English Act of 1861. The wording is chilling: "Whoever shall be convicted of the abominable crime of buggery, committed either with mankind or an animal, shall be liable to be imprisoned and kept to hard labour for a term not exceeding 10 years." When the constitution for the newly independent territories of Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados was drawn up in 1962, its architects honoured their former rulers by preserving colonial values which would themselves be abolished in Britain within five years. These laws had their roots in Victorian morality, but they were embraced enthusiastically by the black nationalist middle class; and, like many illiberal attitudes in the world, these filtered through society, and were transmuted into a virulent machismo among the poor; a consequence, perhaps, of people having been stripped of everything else, including the promises of a better life after independence. It is out of this culture, fortified by contemporary evangelical Christianity, that the culture of music-driven homophobia has grown'.
(
The Guardian)

NOTE: Several Caribbean islands do have such a law in their criminal code. The maximum penalty is in parentheses: Barbados (unknown), Cuba (1 year), Grenada (unknown), Guyana (life), Jamaica (10 years), Saint-Lucia (25 years), Trinidad & Tobago (10 years). In a different article, I read that the Bahamas still have this law also.
NOTE: For more information on criminalization in the Caribbean, visit the GET INFORMED section of this website.


August 6, 1962: Independence of Jamaica
After three centuries of British occupation, Jamaica obtained its independence in 1962. Under the 1962 constitution, discrimination because of race, creed, and religion is forbidden, but there is no protection from abuse because of gender or sexual orientation.

1976: Meeting point in New Kingston: The Closet
It seems that the first gay club, named The Closet, was established in New Kingston around 1976.

NOTE: I have deduced that the club would have opened in 1976, considering the fact that The Jamaica Gaily News No.50 is dated October 7, 1977. Considering that the newsletter might have been issued on a weekly basis, the publication would have started in Autumn 1976. Larry Chang recal starting newsletter in a meeting that took place at The Closet. See below for more information.

1976: The first Jamaican gay association is founded
Chinese-Jamaican gay man and political organizer, Larry Chang, organized a gay group in Jamaica, called the Gay Freedom Movement (GFM) as early as 1976 in a fiercely hostile climate. He held the position of General Secretary and was Publisher and Editor of its newsletter: Jamaica Gaily News. The newsletter was first named The Toilet Paper. As of issue No.3, Larry decided that the name was no longer relevant and changed it to The Jamaica Gaily News, which was a take-off on the Jamaican daily newspaper The Jamaica Daily News. The newsletter was probably initiated in autumn 1976*. The association was still running in May 1981 (example of a dated pamplet in the documentary Songs Of Freedom), but I don't know up until what year.

NOTE: The Jamaica Gaily News No.50, shown in the documentary 'Songs Of Freedom', is dated October 7, 1977. Considering that the newsletter might have been released on a weekly basis, the publication would have started in Autumn 1976.
(
interview with Larry Chang) (Larry Chang homepage) (Songs Of Freedom documentary)

1978: The first criticism of homosexuality appears in reggae music
The song 'Spend One Night In A Babylan' by King Sounds & The Israelites might be the first reggae song to dealdirectly with homosexuality. This is wat Cecil Gutzmore wrote about the song in his essay 'Casting The Fist Stone! Policing of Homo/Sexuality in Jamaican Popular Culture', published in April 2004. 'Reggae artistes are different from the deejays to the extent that fewer singers have composed songs directed against homosexuals/homosexuality and it is perhaps more difficult for the singer to address this issue by improvising in performance.Even so, the earliest directly homophobic reggae song known to me is the 1978 King Sounds and the Israelites’ ‘Spend One Night Inna Babylon’. This song makes explicit mention of Sodom and Gomorrah and of the fact that these two ancient cities, along with Babylon and Rome, are anathematized in the Bible. King Sounds, then, is simply transferring onto modern ‘Babylon’ – as constituted in what Pollard (1994) has termed Rastafari ‘dread-talk’– the characteristic sin of Sodom. In the song King Sounds embellishes his catalogue of Babylonian abominations by adding to it bestiality. For those advancing the Christian fundamentalist imperative, the essential sin of homosexual behaviour (sodomy) is said to be forbidden by God, and is recognized as a sin so serious as to be punishable by death'.

NOTE: I have found a few other reggae songs that deals with Sodom And Domorrah that were written in the mid and late seventies. That list can be found in the SONGS & LYRCIS section of this website, on page two MORE SONGS.
(
Casting The First Stone!)

1985: The first ragga song: Under Me Sleng Teng
Reggae music had dominated the charts in Jamaica for 18 years, but the music and its lyrical content were now evolving in a different direction. With the Wayne Smith single Under Me Sleng Teng, recorded on a pre-programmed Casio keyboard, ragga music was born. The music then evolved into dancehall music in the early nineties and became the island's main musical expression.

1989: Shabba Ranks records the song 'Mauma Man'
Yellowman and probably several other ragga artists wrote songs that discriminate against gays and lesbians, but it seems that Shabba Ranks' song 'Mauma Man' could be the first Jamaican song to advertise murder of the LGBT community. Shabba Ranks was the most successful dancehall singer in the late eighties and early nineties. Yellowman (an albino, he got his name from the colour of his skin), was also extremely popular in the dancehall/ragga scene. In 1989, Shabba Ranks wrote at least another anti-gay song: 'Have Fi Get A Man'.

NOTE: Very little information is available on the internet regarding Shabba Ranks' and Yellowman's homophobic songs. Several articles mentioned both artists recording such songs, but the names of the songs are not given.

(lyrics for 'Mauma Man')

July 1992: Buju Banton records the song Boom Bye Bye
Buju Banton, Jamaican singer on the rise, released the self-produced single "Boom Bye Bye" (Boom goodbye, goodbye In a queer's head Rude boys don't promote no queer men They have to die Send for the automatic and The Uzi instead Shoot them, don't come if we shoot them If a man comes near me Then his skin must peel Burn him up badly, Like you would burn an old tyre wheel). On July 19th, he made headlines when the song entered the music charts in the no.15 position.

NOTE: I haven't been able to find a lot of info about the early nineties on the internet, but a dancehall fan named Basil in a chat group recalls: "The whole world reacted (to Buju song) I was listening to radio shows up here talking about it a lot, and what happened as a result of that? Arguably the biggest international name in reggae, Shabba Ranks, lost his international career, record labels started cutting off people like Super Cat, Mad Cobra and Terror Fabulous, and dancehall music went 'away' for awhile".
(
lyrics for 'Boom Bye Bye')

November (?), 1992: Buju Banton is dropped from the WOMAD festival
GAY TIMES ARTICLE: British black gay activist Ted Brown remembers how he first first heard the record (Boom Bye Bye) at parties in London. He couldn't believe his ears. And he couldnt believe that Buju Banton was getting away with it. So he decided to do something about it. "We approached the record company and Buju Banton's management," Brown recalls today. "They didn't respond, but we learned that Banton was due to appear at the WOMAD festival and alerted them. They didn't know what the lyrics meant. They independently concluded that the lyrics were contrary to the spirit of international solidarity that the festival was founded on and asked Buju Banton not to play the song. As they got no response, he was dropped."
(
GayTimes)

December 4, 1992: Buju Banton and Ted Brown are invited to the UK TV show The World
Jamaican reggae singer Buju Banton and Ted Brown co-founder of BLAGAM (Black Lesbians and Gays Against Media Homophobia) were invited on the UK TV show The World. Ted Brown recalls the show: "I appeared, saying this is not on, but using slightly stronger language," Brown laughs. "So did Banton. He said 'homosexuality runs contrary to my religious beliefs' but he actually apologised, saying he did not mean to incite violence against any communities. But then there was a film of him in Jamaica, performing the song with a gang of guys carrying sticks. After the film there was an interview with Shabba Ranks in the studio, and he supported Boom Bye Bye. Ranks said, 'God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve. If you break the law of God you deserve crucifixion.' There was uproar in the audience. Mark Lamarr jumped on Ranks and told him 'thats absolute crap and you know it!' – much to his favour." Soon after his appearance on The Word, Ted Brown was badly beaten up by a gang that barged into his home. (taken from Gay Times article)

Delroy Constantine-Simms recalls: "It caused a national outrage and a lot of friction between the Black and gay community in Britain. In that the Black community considered the white gay back lash to the comments and racist, because the very same white gay activists were not so quick to condemn Guns N' Roses, when they spouted the same homophobic nonsense. Which is the reason why Buju Banton and Shabba Ranks received so much support. Not because they supported their views it was because of the manner in which the white gay press were perceived as demonising the Black community in Britain"... "Matters were not helped when Peter Tatchell of OutRage! asked the Director of Public Prosecutions to ban the record. While the legal Black radio stations capitulated, the illegal radio stations played the record more often than usual, some even took to playing a host of homophobic rock records as a means of informing the White gay organisations that they were being highly selective and possibly racist as previously stated.". (taken from a Q article)

NOTE: I would like to point out that the Guns N' Roses song 'One In A Million' has a homophobic statement, but it doesn't advertise killing, which is the case with 'Boom Bye Bye'. To me, there is a huge difference.
(
GayTimes) (Q: The Gayteway To South Africa)

1993: Shabba Ranks appearance on The Tonight Show is cancelled and faces several protests
COMBINATION OF TWO ARTICLES: "Due to the power and influence of the gay lobby in the music business, in the wake of his statement, Shabba Ranks was dropped from a scheduled performance on the "Tonight Show With Jay Leno," and many of Shabba's live shows were accompanied by protests, just because of his support for 'Boom Bye Bye'. Under pressure, he later said that while homosexuality was wrong, he did not condone physical violence against anyone.
NOTE: Although it is said that it was Buju Banton that was dropped from the Tonight Show in the Gay Times interview, this information seems to be wrong. It would be Shabba Ranks that was dropped from the show.
(
Rootz: The Great Chi Chi Man Debate) (Darker Side Of Black: film review) (GayTimes)

1996: Buju Banton faces severe resistance from gay organisations in the US
Buju Banton was working hard to break through in the States -- his record company thought he could be the new Bob Marley. So Brown's group, Black Lesbians and Gay Men Against Media Homophobia, hooked up with the American pressure group GLAAD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Media Defamation) and managed to get all Banton's TV appearances cancelled and his records taken off radio stations.

NOTE: The website
Metromate.co.uk has mixed up some information. They write: "After Ted Brown’s appearance on The Word TV show, in protest, Buju Banton was withdrawn from appearing at the international music festival at Womad and from America’s nation-wide Tonight pop TV show. He later withdrew his hit single, did not include it on his album, and produced a video apologising for inciting violence against our community." I never found another source that speaks of this 'video apology', and even if it exists, Buju Banton performed the songs several times after the mid-nineties. It wasn't Buju Banton that was dropped from The Tonight Show performance, but Shabba Ranks.
(
GayTimes)

August 20-22, 1997: Riot in Kingston General Penitentiary and the St. Catherine District prison
Prison riots began after corrections commissioner John Prescod recommended that condoms be given to inmates and guards. Both groups thought the proposal implied that they were having homosexual sex. The guards walked out in protest, leaving the inmates unsupervised. The inmates stabbed to death two prisoners suspected of being gay. After 3 days of rioting, a total of 16 inmates were killed, 30 more were injured. (Reuter) (PlanetOut)

October, 1997: Beenie Man appears on The RuPaul Show on VH1
Beenie Man made an appearance on The RuPaul Show in the mid 90's. Bounty Killer jumped on the occasion and spread rumours that Beenie Man was gay. This started a long rivalry between the two singers.

NOTE: The show was aired between October 1996 and September 1998. I don't have the exact date of broadcast, but Beenie Man probably appeared in October 1997, when the movie Dancehall Queen was released. (
exerpt of the RuPaul Show with Beenie Man)

December 10, 1998: The second Jamaican gay association is founded
J-FLAG, the Jamaican Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays is founded by Brian Williamson, Larry Chang, Ian McKnight and Julius Powell. A few other people that penned articles and gave press interviews also seem to have taken part in J-FLAG's creation such as Julia Lowe and Thomas Glave.

NOTE: I originally wrote December 14, but can't remember where I found that date. J-FLAG published a press release in December 2011 to commemorate their 13th anniversary. Here is an excerpt: J-FLAG was launched on December 10, 1998 as Jamaica's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights advocacy group by twelve business people, educators, lawyers, public relations practitioners and human rights activists to advocate for protection from state- sanctioned and community violence. In this regard, J-FLAG's call was for the fair and equal treatment of gays and lesbians under the law and by the ordinary citizen.
e ordinary citizen.

1999: Brian Williamson opens the Entourage, a new gay club in Jamaica
I have found very little information on this, but I believe the Entourage was the second (?) gay and lesbian dance club in Jamaica, the other being The Closet in the mid-seventies. The few articles that I read state that Brian Williamson bought a large property in New Kingston, on Haughton Avenue and convert part of it into a nightclub in the late nineties. Thomas Glave remembers: "Entourage, a place where so many of us gays, lesbians, and bisexuals could go and dance, laugh, flirt, party, and hang out with friends and loved ones – a place where we could breathe freely and openly, delivered for a few hours from Jamaica's otherwise repressive, hateful anti-gay environment. At Entourage and in other places, Brian was not afraid to challenge the police, fiercely, when they attempted to harass him." The police tried to shut it down, but the club remained open for two years until someone attacked Brian one night, slicing his arm with a knife. Brian went to live in Canada for a few years, then went back to Jamaica to persue his vision. He was murdered in his house on June 9, 2004.
NOTE: Some of these articles talk about the club (
New Times) (Jamaica Gleaner: Remembering Brian Williamson)

April 2000: J-FLAG request amendments to Jamaica's Bill Of Rights
In April 2000, the Jamaican Parliament discussed amendments to its current bill of rights Constitution. Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG), with the help of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Comission (IGLHRC) saw an opportunity to request the recognition of new protections for citizens' rights. The same year, (unknown date) the Jamaican parliament discussed J-FLAG proposals to amend the current bill of rights to the Constitution to include prohibition of discrimination on the basis of sexuality (see June 5, 2001 for more details).
(
International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission) (J-FLAG Parliamentary Submission) (J-FLAG Parliamentary Submission 2)

July 23, 2000: The BBC stops sponsoring the Festival Of Peace And Love in London
BBC Radio London Live, the main sponsor of Buju Banton's performance at the Festival Of Peace And Love. The Editor of London Live immediately stopped promotion of the festival on his station after being alerted of Buju Banton's lyrics, and obtained assurances from the Festival's PR people that 'Boom Bye Bye' would not be part of Banton's set. (OutRage)

January 13, 2001: Bunny Wailer controversial speech towards LGBT during a Jamaican concert
In January 2001, Bunny Wailer, one of the founding members of The Wailers, was featured at one of Jamaica's most important concert: Rebel Salute. The yearly event is supervised by Tony Rebel, who describe it as "A family-oriented show where you can bring your kids, you can bring your grandma, or your pastor because the type of music that we display is motivational and inspirational". Bunny Wailer used is stage performance to deliver several moral speeches that can appear to some as macho and denying science evidences. They include his perception of women's role, the birth of AIDS, naked women on screen and homosexuality. In the introduction of the song Nice Time, nostalgic of the dance he attend when he was young, he disapprove today's dancehall party where the men stand on one side of the dance floor and all the women stand on the other side. In order to promote his vision of heterosexuality, he doesn't hesitate to hire some of the 'chi chi man' conflictual sentences and put down homosexuals. Homophobic speech? Some agree and some disagree..
(
Transcript of the speech) (Setlist of the concert) (Analysis of the speech) (Personnal comments + sleeve of Rub-A-Dub)

PERSONAL OPINION: I 've been criticized for calling this an 'homophobic' speech. It's definitively not what we are use to hear from contemporary Jamaican artists that promote violence. It's probably not even worst than the usual Sunday sermon you can get in any given Jamaica church. Still, I see this speech as Bunny Wailer's statement on the 'Chi Chi Man' conflict. It became quite controversial among some Wailers fans. Two of the most important website (Intelligent Diplomat) (Wailer.de) cclose their page on Bunny Wailer after hearing that speech. A year later, the owner of Wailer.de re-opened his Bunny Wailer page, with a special mention of disapproval. People who know my main website (Soul Rebels), knows that I'm promoting The Wailers early career, so no need to tell you that I felt confronted in how to deal with it. But it definitively belong on this website. You can click on the transcript and it's analysis to make your own opinion.

NOTE: Way too much time was spent doing the transcript, the comments and the analysis. That speech wasn't worth all that energy. But I needed to express myself, specially after having invested so much time doing the Wailers discography.

March 2001: JLP is using the song 'Chi Chi Man' for the by-election campaign
This was not the first time that Jamaican political parties are used Jamaican popular songs to gain public votes. Edward Seaga of the JLP (Jamaica Labour Party) carefully chose TOK's popular song 'Chi Chi Man' as the signature for its campaign in the March by-election for the North East St Ann constituency. It has been used extensively by the JLP at its public meetings in March, April, May and June 2001 (and probably all the way right up to the October 2002 elections). The song 'Chi Chi Man', a slang for homosexual in Jamaica, was used to attack Prime Minister P J Patterson (of the People's National Party ), allegating that he was gay, which he strongly contredicted. His stern declaration at the 2000 annual conference of the People's National Party that his government would not legalise homosexuality, in the face of a promotion of the issue by Amnesty International was largely seen as an attempt at asserting his own heterosexuality. An attack on Patterson's sexuality also happened during the 1993 election campaign. Patterson won the 1993 and the 1997 elections and was elected for a third mandate on October 16, 2002. (KingJams.com) (Jamaica Gleaner)

April 24, 2001: Ras Records launch their campaign 'Slackness Done'
RAS records is “trying to put a stop to [homophobic lyrics in dancehall] with a campaign called “Slackness Done.” The company, a 20-year-old icon in the industry with a roster of [widely-respected] artists such as Tony Rebel, Chaka Demus and Pliers, Culture, Israel Vibration, Gondwana and many others, hopes to “sweep away the bad vibes that homophobic, misogynistic and materialistic music has perpetrated on us,” said Brice Rose, a partner in RAS Records.” “Homophobia is a sign of a deeply insecure and ignorant male mind,” Rose says. “I’ve always believed that the more vociferously homophobic a guy is, the more he secretly likes men. So maybe all the homophobic rappers, DJs and club hipsters are really flaming closet cases!” To curb such homophobia, RAS Records is distributing 1,200 brooms to other record companies, the media, artists and dancehall DJs “with a message that it is time for the industry to clean up dancehall music and stop bashing gays.” (Ras Records) (Fugues.com) (The Beat) (Tony Rebel interview)

I haven't read this issue of The Beat yet, but these lines are taken from it's article:''Is Slackness Done? Cleaning Up The Dancehall'

June 5, 2001: J-FLAG presentation to the Jamaican Parliament
On June 5, 2001, the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG) made a historic presentation to the Jamaican Parliament (the Joint Select Committee on the Charter of Rights) to make the case for protecting Jamaicans from discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation. In their reports 'Battyboys Affi Dead', Amnesty International USA write: 'the proposals were rejected in June 2001 by a Parliamentary Special Select Committee. The Committee reportedly feared that the provision would force reform of other laws, such as those on marriage and taxation'. In December 2001, a parliamentary Select Committee recommended that Parliament review laws criminalising consensual gay sex. The proposals were rejected by Parliament in January 2002'.

Excerpt of J-FLAG Parlimentary Submission:
'A constitution should provide a foundation of principles upon which the laws of a society are built. It should ensure, for all its constituents, the rights to equality before the law, and to dignity of the person. Rights such as these are integral to the very foundation of this country. The birth of Jamaica as a modern nation occurred out of a history of oppression and colonialism that necessitated the claiming, by the disadvantaged black majority, of a new rule of law that idealised these two rights. A Bill of Rights should seek to protect the inherent human identity from abuse. By this we mean that features which are inherently and innately a part of one's identity ought not to be allowed to form the basis for discrimination or exclusion by others. The Jamaican Constitution currently protects against discrimination based on race, and it is now proposed that gender be included as a head of non-discrimination. We believe that sexual orientation also ought properly to be brought under the protective umbrella of the anti-discrimination clause'.
(
J-FLAG Parliamentary Submission) (J-FLAG Parliamentary Submission 2)
NOTE: There was also a petition that was lauched in June 2001, to be presentged to the Jamaican Governement. The link for the petition is no longer working.

August 21, 2001: BBC Channel 4 documentary: Roots Of Homophobia
Description text of the 38-minute radio documentary broadcasted on BBC, found on the AllOut website: 'Jamaica is regarded as one of the most violently anti-gay destinations on earth. The expression 'batty boy' was born here and a new Dancehall anthem 'Chi Chi Man' - which calls for the burning of gays - has topped the charts for thirteen weeks. And it's now getting airtime in Britain. Rikki Beadle-Blair travels for the first time to the island where his mother was born. He confronts his fair share of homophobes in a land where gay sex is still punisable with ten years hard labour. But he also meets some of the most inspiring and eloquent gay people the world has to offer. Expect to be surprise'. In 2002, the documentary won the Sony Radio Academy Awards for Best Radio Feature. Rikki Beadle-Blair is a British actor, director, screenwriter, playwright, singer, aerobics teacher, designer, choreographer/dancer and songwriter of West Indian origin.
(
Roots Of Homophobia transcript) (The Guardian) (Rikki Beadle-Blair biography)

The link for the radio documentary is no longer available.

November 2001: Bounty Killer appears in the No Doubt video
Bounty Killer collaborated on the song Hey Baby by the American group No Doubt. The song was issued as a single and Bounty Killer appeared in the video. In one scene, in which Bounty Killer is not featured, No Doubt's drummer, Adrian Young, takes off his clothes. Beenie Man jumped on the occasion to spread rumours about Bounty Killer's sexual orientation. Oil was thrown on the fire. Several songs were written between the two DJs.

More information about the video (New York Times - Kelefa Sanneh - June 28, 2002) :
The Lords Of Reggae Are Rolling

August 2002: Janet Jackson records a song with Beenie Man
The song 'Feel It Boy' appeared on Beenie Man's new album and is released as a single. Janet's duet with Beenie Man was not welcomed by her fanbase. The controversy seemed to be at it's peak in early September. The single was supposed to come out on September 9, but according to the Amazon website, the released date was pushed back to October, probably because of the controversy. (OutRage 1) (OutRage 2)

August 29/30, 2002: BBC 1-Xtra removes Capleton's song Bun Out Di Chi Chi from it's Top-Ten list
BBC London radio station decided to remove the songs Bun Out Di Chi Chi (by Capleton) and Log On (by Elephant Man) after the gay rights group OutRage! points out to them that these songs were advocating the killing of gays and lesbians. In late September, OutRage! also pointed out that a contest to identify music clips in a TV advert for the same radio station contained an extract from Chi Chi Man (by T.O.K.).
(
OutRage 1) (OutRage 2) (OutRage 3) (Jamaica Star)

October 1, 2002: OutRage! protests at the MOBO Awards in London
At the 2002 MOBO Awards (Music Of Black Origin), three of the five nominees in the Best Reggae Act category were dancehall artists that promote gay killing in their songs. These three artists are: T.O.K., Capleton and Elephant Man. OutRaged! protested at the venue and faced strong opposition by a gang of about 25 young black male fans. The two other nominees are Sean Paul and Beres Hammond. Sean Paul won the award.
(
OutRage 1) (OutRage 2) (GayTimes) (The Guardian)

January 24, 2003: A documentary on Jamaican gays and lesbians is presented in Toronto
World premiere of Phillip Pike’s documentary Songs of Freedom in Toronto, Canada. Songs of Freedom takes us inside the world of Jamaican gays and lesbians and tells compelling stories of courage and hope about individuals courageously carving out meaningful lives, despite the taboo against their sexual identity. The documentary was an official selection at many film festivals including the Vancouver Queer Film & Video Festival and Washington D.C.’s Reel Affirmations Film Festival. Songs of Freedom was also broadcast in North America on Pridevision TV (November 9, 2004).

Read tan interview with the author:
Phillip Pike documents homophobia and hope in Jamaica
To order the documentary: Songs Of Freedom: Compelling Stories Of Courage And Hope By Jamaican Gays And Lesbians 
Screenings of the documentary: capture screen from the older website

June 18, 2003: OutRage! calls for the prosecution of dancehall artists
OutRage! called the prosecution of dancehall singers, record companies and music stores under the British law. The organisation presented Commander Steve Allen, head of the hate crime unit at New Scotland Yard, with a 10-page dossier detailing the lyrics that incite the murder of gay people and setting out the legal case for a prosecution. (10-page dossier)

September 25, 2003: The MOBO Awards have not learned from it's past experiences
In 2002, The MOBO Awards faced protest by OutRage! for nominating Jamaican artists that incite violence and murder against the gay community. Unfortunately, a year later, the story is still the same. This year Elephant Man, Bounty Killer and Beenie Man are among the nominees. The two other nominees for Best Reggae Act are Wayne Wonder and Sean Paul. Wayne Wonder won the award. (OutRage)

October 30, 2003: An upstate New York Elephant Man concert is cancelled
After being informed of the strong homophobic content of some of Elephant Man songs, the Students Activities Board voted to withdraw their support of the concert. Elephant Man was scheduled to perform on-campus, at Alfred University in upstate New York. (OutRage)

November 10, 2003: UK Police agree with OutRage! for prosecution of reggae artrists
After five weeks of investigation, Chief Inspector Clive Discroll of New Scotland Yard agreed with the OutRage! request to prosecute againts three Jamaican dancehall singers: Elephant Man, Bounty Killer and Beenie Man. (OutRage)

December 5, 2003: Two Bounty Killer concerts are cancelled in Britain
On December 2, OutRage! informed the UK police that Bounty Killer was due to perform in Birmingham on December 5 and in London the following evening. The gay & lesbian organisation asked the police to arrest Bounty Killer on charges of inciting violence against homosexuals. Police warned concert venues that they may be guilty of aiding and abetting criminal offences if Bounty Killer were to perform hatred songs. The two concerts were cancelled as Bounty Killer decided to avoid Britain under these accusations. (OutRage 1) (OutRage 2) (OutRage 3)

January 17, 2004: Capleton and Sizzla give disrespectful performances at Rebel Salute
Amnesty International's introduction to their May 2004 report on Jamaican homophobia: 'In January 2004, around 30,000 people attended a huge stage show and Rastafarian celebration, Rebel Salute, in St. Elizabeth, Jamaica. Some of Jamaica's most celebrated artists were present. Throughout the night, Capleton, Sizzla and others sang almost exclusively about gay men. Using the derogatory terms for gay men - "chi chi men" or "battybwoys" they urged the audience to "kill dem, battybwoys haffi dead, gun shots pon dem. who want to see dem dead put up his hand".

These kinds of performances, unfortunately, are not isolated in Jamaica. Rebel Salute is considered one of the finest events for Jamaican reggae/dancehall lovers. During that single evening, 39 artists took the stage. Among them, Junior Byles, The Mighty Diamonds, John Holt, Culture, U Roy, Ken Boothe, Isley Dread and Luciano. The performances of Capleton and Sizzla were criticized by many, as both artists behaved in unaceptable ways. Luciano's comments were:"I am certainly disappointed in the behavior of artists who are hailed as internationals who behave in such an unprofessional manner. Storming the stage with loads of followers, shouting out indecent language, giving in to their ego rather than educating the people and serving Jah. This behavior is not condoned by Jah MessenJah. I stand for equal rights and justice, defence of the poor, care for the needy, and high regards for the elderly. I pray that those brothers who are constantly blaspheming before the Almighty and his people will wise up before they become an open disgrace. He that exalted himself shall be a base but he that humbleth himself shall be exalted in those days."
(
Amnesty International 10-page report) (Jamaica Observer) (Jamaica Gleaner 1) (Jamaica Gleaner 2) (ReggaeVibes.com)

February 18, 2004: Publication of a 16-page essay on Jamaican homophobia: 'Casting The First Stone!'

The full title of the essay is 'Casting the First Stone! Policing of Homo/Sexuality in Jamaican Culture'. It was written by Cecil Gutzmore, a Jamaican man who is a research student and lecturer at the University of the West Indies.'The essay was published in Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies (Volume 6, Number 1), in April 2004. The paper explores and intervenes against homophobia in the specificities of its manifestation in Jamaican popular and official culture. It leads to an acknowledgement of the verbal, emotional and physical violence of Jamaican homophobia, and a denial that there is any comparative evidential basis that this is its distinguishing feature internationally. The paper locates the distinctiveness of Jamaican homophobia; the peculiar convergence in the public virulence of the anti-homosexuality of both the religious and the secular popular, as well as of official culture; the unique, near obsessive, antihomosexuality of the dancehall/ragga deejay genre; the societal violenceproneness and a tendency towards lawlessness.

NOTE: It's the strongest research that I read about analysing the roots of Jamaican homophobia and it's social repercution into popular dancehall music. One of the few documents that I found that talks about the early stage of homophobia in dancehall music. The document was published in April 2004, but seems to be available online since February 18, 2004.
(
Casting The First Stone!)

June 1, 2004: Amnesty International releases a report on Jamaican homophobia
On May 17, Amnesty International UK Media Director Lesley Warner released the report: 'Jamaica: Battybwoys affi dead” [“Faggots have to die”]: Action against Homophobia in Jamaica'. The report reveals several testimonies from gays and lesbians who suffered verbal abuse, physical violence and even witnessed murder of homosexuals. Mr. Warner called on the international community to send letters to P.J. Patterson, the Prime Minister of Jamaica, asking him to repeal the legislation which criminalizes homosexuality and to make sure that gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders have the same legal rights as any other Jamaican. On June 1st, the website GayToday.com published an article using the main lines from the Amnesty International report, entitled: 'Jamaica's Gays: Protection from Homophobes urgently needed: Gay men and lesbians are being beaten, cut, burned and shot'.
NOTE: I believe the official date for the release of the 10-page report was on June 1st, 2004. Only a brief summary of the report would have been published on May 17, 2004. (
Amnesty International - introduction to the report) (Amnesty International 10-page report) (Gay Today) (Jamaica Star)

June 9, 2004: Jamaican leading gay activist stabbed to death
Jamaica suffered the tragic lost of Brian Williamson, the island's 59-year-old leading gay rights advocate. On the morning of June 9th, he was found lying in a pool of blood, with 12 stab wounds on his face and neck. (Later articles mentioned there were 77 chops and stabs). The condition of his body and his visbility as a gay man made it clear for local and international LGBT groups that this murder should be investigated as a "hate-related crime", but instead, the police investigated it as a burglary, as a safe was missing. Brian was co-founder of J-FLAG (Jamaican Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays), and ran the gay and lesbian nightclub Entourage for two years. He was very vocal on gay rights issues, penning many letters to editors of newspapers, speaking on local radio talk shows and appearing at least once a television programme, without using a pseudonym. On June 13, a memorial was organized at Brian's home, which gathered nearly 200 people and ten days later, OutRaged! organized a vigil at the Jamaican High Commission in London. On June 29, 2004, Dwight Hayden, the 24-year old newspaper vendor, one of the two suspects, appeared before a judge in the Corporate Area Resident Magistrate's Court and pleaded guilty. According to the Court statement, Hayden and an accomplice went to Williamson's home seeking money for a business they wanted to start. They asked Brian for $3000, but he offered $400. As they were not satisfied, they chopped and stabbed Brian, eventually killing him. Hayden will return to court on May 3rd 2006 and plead guilty (again?!?) and he get his sentenced on May 19, 2006.
(
Jamaica Observer) (Jamaica Star 1) (Jamaica Gleaner) (New Times) (Jamaica Gleaner: Remembering Brian) (PeterTachell.net) (Amnesty International) (Jamaica Star 2) Note: For more articles, click here: Brian Williamson. See May 2006 for more details.

June 23, 2004: The London concert of Beenie Man is cancelled
Upon his arrival at Heathrow airport, Beenie Man was questioned by London police about his homophobic lyrics. A few hours later, the Ocean nightclub in Hackney, East London, decided to cancel the concert, sheduled for the following evening. That concert was the first on Beenie Man's UK and Irish tour. (OutRage)

June 24, 2004: Buju Banton identified in a mob that beat up gay men
Buju Banton was identified by witnesses as part of a gay-bashing gang who attacked six men in their home on June 24th. A dozen people dragged the six men out of the house and beat them up. A crowd of nearly 100 people gather and shouted "beat out the battyboys". Some of the victims were hospitalised. The allegations that Buju Banton took part in the beating was denied by others soon after the incident. On July 13, it was announced by Radio Jamaica's RJR News that the police were seeking to interview Buju Banton. The story only emerged on the OutRage! website on July 20, 2004. In response to Banton's denial, Amnesty International produced an official statement that enough evidence has been found in police and Human Right Watch reports for the accusation. Buju Banton's trial will take place in September 2005. (NewYorkTimes) (Amnesty International letter) (Amnsty International Report) (OutRage 1) (OutRage 2)

July 2, 2004: Le Zenith ask Elephant Man to withdraw his homophobic lyrics
On June 29, InterPride France, which federate16 gay and lesbian french organisations, ask the cancellation of Elephant Man's performance at Le Zenith. After receiving several emails of complains, backed with a petitions from LGBT organisations, the concert venue ask the management of Elephant Man to make shure that the artist would not perform any homophobic songs. Probably no agreement was reached in time as the concert scheduled for July 4 was cancelled. (InterPride France) (Tetu)

July 8, 2004: Bounty Killer concert cancelled at the Krakrock Festival in Belgium
The cancelation of dancehall artists who sings homophobic lyrics is spread across Europe. The planned performance of Bounty Killer at the Krakrock Featival in Avelgem, Belgium, in September was cancelled. Beenie Man and Capleton were given warnings in Brussels before their performances. TOK and Capleton picketed by Amnesty International in Amsterdam. Elephant Man concert picketed in Paris. (OutRage 1) (OutRage 2)

July 26 2004: OutRage! launch the campaign 'Stop Murder Music'
In response to Jamaican dancehall lyrics that advertise hatred, violence and the killing of gays and lesbians, the British organisation OutRage!, along with 150 local groups in cities across Europe and the US, launched an international solidarity campaign named 'Stop Murder Music'. The first phase was targeting “murder-music” singers. Several Jamaican artists would see their concerts cancelled across Europe, USA and Canada. There was also a website, now unaccessible.(www.stopmurdermusic.org) (press release 1) (press release 2) (Dancehall Dossier: Stop Murder Music)

NOTE: To see all the concerts that were cancelled, press the CONCERTS CANCELLED button in the main menu of this website.

August 2, 2004: Virgin Records issues an apology statement on behalf of Beenie Man
Fearing that Beenie Man's career and music sales would suffer from the OutRage! campaign 'Stop Murder Music', Virgin Records rushed an 'Apology statement', on behalf of their artist. That statement was co-ordinated with the launching of his new album and US tour. The following day, Clyde McKenzie, head of public relations for Beenie Man's management company Shocking Vibes, told Radio Jamaica that "the statement was not a specific apology to gay people, that it was initiated by Virgin Records not by Beenie Man, and that Beenie Man reserved his right to continue criticising "the homosexual lifestyle", of which he did not approve. (OutRage 1) (OutRage 2)

August 6, 2004: Beenie Man is dropped from the 'Salem Stir Your Senses' tour
The 'Stop Murder Music' campaign was proven effective as it reached the US, where gay and human rights activists were able to bring the debate to the news. On August 6th, tobacco company RJ Reynolds removed Beenie Man from its 'Salem Stir Your Senses tour', reducing the sponsorship to 14 of the 35 planned concerts. The same day, The Electric Factory in Philadelphia forced Beenie Man to drop two anti-gay songs from his setlist. His returning gig scheduled for October 11 at the same venue was also cancelled on August 9. On August 10, the owner of the Indiannapolis club The Vogue cancelled the concert scheduled for October 28. On August 11, it was the Pittsburgh concert's turn, scheduled for October 14, to be cancelled. On August 12, three more concerts were cancelled: Cleveland (October 16), Columbus (October 18) and Chicago (October 25). The Quest in Minneapolis was the last to cancel its concert scheduled for October 31. Apart from these nine cancellations, several other US cities had protests outside the venues.
(
OutRage) (Chicago Free Press) (RainbowNetwork) (PlanetOut) (365gay 1) (365gay 2) (GayWired) (Concerts Cancelled)

August 7, 2004: Allegation that Banton wants to sue OutRage!
A source close to Buju Banton told The Voice that the artist was contemplating legal action against OutRage! following the circulation of an email that Buju was wanted in Jamaica for beating gay men. In the same article, a Jamaican music industry leader, who refused to be named, said: "We are going to be hitting them with actions from all corners. They (OutRage!) are maligning the name of our country". (The Voice) (OutRage reaction)

August 14, 2004: Puma warns Buju Banton of "zero tolerance policy towards homophobia"
Buju Banton performed at the Puma-sponsored Olympics party in Athens, but only after being briefed on the company's "zero tolerance policy towards homophobia and other forms of prejudice" (OutRage)

August 22, 2004: Beenie Man performs a medley of his 'chi chi man' songs in Jamaica
Once onstage in Jamaica, Beenie Man personally denied he had ever apologised for his 'kill gays' music. To prove it, he performed a medley of his 'chi chi man' songs. That event took place on August 22, at the Red Stripe Summer Sizzle concert at James Bond Beach, in Jamaica. The night before, he did the same thing at the Champions In Action concert, at the Caymanas Polo Club. (OutRage) (Jamaican Observer 1) (Jamaican Observer 2)

August 24, 2004: Beenie Man performance at the MTV Video Music Awards is cancelled
Fearing the planned protest by South Floridian gay activists would disrupt the televised event, the organizers of the MTV Video Music Awards show decided to cancel Beenie Man four days before his performance. He was initially part of the Saturday night lineup at Club Row, a concert that was part of the MTV weekend music events. The Awards show was broadcasted on Sunday August 29, at the bayfront American Airlines Arena.
(
South Florida Sun-Sentinel) (BBC News)

August 26, 2004: Two Beenie Man concerts are cancelled in Canada
Following the controversy over Beenie Man's lyrics and pressure by Canadian gay organisations, the concert promoters cancelled the London (Ontario) and the Toronto concert, planned for September 17 and 18. (Toronto Sun)

NOTE: My research leads to conclude that there were only two Canadian dates scheduled for Beenie Man's tour. Considering Beenie Man's popularity, more dates would have been added, but following the number of concert cancellations, the plan to extend the Canadian tour was probably dropped.

August 27, 2004: The London festival Reggae In The Park is canceled
Following intense lobbying by OutRage!, the festival scheduled for September 5 at Wembley Arena was cancelled by the organisers. The line-up featured Marcia Griffiths, Sizzla, Freddie McGregor, Barrington Levy, Vybz Kartel, Gregory Isaacs and The Mighty Diamonds. OutRage! didn't ask that the event be cancelled, but simply that Sizzla and Vybz Kartel be removed from the bill. (OutRage)

September 3, 2004: No More Murder Music: Manhattan-based Caribbean organisation
In the summer of 2004, a group of Caribbean people living in the Manhattan area created the 'No More Murder Music' coalition. One of the group's spokespersons is Julius Powell, a former member of the Jamaican organisation J-FLAG, who resides in New York since 2001. As the UK organisation OutRage! had faced several accusations of being racist for attacking Jamaican music, the New York Caribbean organisers wanted to challenge this perception by creating a similar organisation within the gay black community. One of their main goals was to deal with issues of race within the queer world. They organised a demonstration in front of the Manhatthan Hammerstein Ballroom on September 3, where Beenie Man, Vybz Kartel, T.O.K. and Elephant Man were performing. (GayCityNews.com 1) (GayCityNews.com 2)

NOTE: I wasn't able to locate other articles, and I wonder if this organisation is still active.

September 8, 2004: Elephant Man and Vybz Kartel dropped from the MOBO Awards
Making a stand against homophopia, the MOBO Awards panel of judges requested an apology for anti-gay lyrics from Elephant Man and Vybz Kartel, both nominees at the 2004 MOBO Awards. The singers' representatives said that they had "moved on", but no written apology had been received. The two artists were dropped from the nominee list. Sean Paul won the award. (BBC News) (OutRage) (Letter to BBC) (congratulations to BBC) (

video of Black Music Council protesting)NOTE:The initial nominees were Sean Paul, Vybz Kartel, Elephant Man, Toots and The Maytals. I don't think the two artists that were dropped were replaced. The event took place at Royal Albert Hall in London, on September 30, 2004. There was a protest by BMC outside the venue.

September 13, 2004: Capleton is removed from Reggae In The Park in San Francisco
September 9th marked the debut of Capleton's 34-concert US tour. There was protest at several of them and several gay and lesbian Californian organisations were able to have eight of the concerts cancelled. On September 13th, Capleton was removed from the line-up of the Reggae In The Park festival, scheduled on October 3rd, in San Francisco. On September 24th, the Associated Students Presents cancelled four concerts scheduled on the campus of California State University and Humboldt State University. On September 29th, the House Of Blues announced the cancellation of the West Hollywood concert and the following day, they cancelled the New Orleans concert, scheduled for October 11th, on 'National Coming Out Day'. Two shows were relocated at the Harlow club in Sacramento and The Catalyst in Santa Cruz, but within a few days, those two dates were also cancelled. In an interview with The Jamaica Star, Claudette Kemp, Capleton's manager, said that the singer and his entourage were threatened by the protestors as they arrived to performed in Scottsdale, Arizona.............
(List of Concerts Cancelled) (OutRage! press release) (Humboldt State University) (Northcoast Journal) (Jamaica Gleaner) (Indy Bay) (LA Independent)
(
The Jamaica Star)

September 27, 2004: OutRage! leader receives death threats
Peter Tatchell , volunteer for the gay rights organisation OutRage!, initiator of the 'Stop Murder Music' campaign received several death threats by dancehall fans. The messages were sent through internet message boards, e-mail or by phone. The fans are warned Tactchell against continuing the campaign.
(
Jamaica Star) (www.gay.com)

September 30, 2004: Black Music Council: UK-based organisation defending the DJs
Blacker Dread (owner of the Blacker Dread Music Store) and Doctah X (British Jamaican DJ) launched the UK-based organization Black Music Council to protect the rights of the eight artists "persecuted" by OutRage! On their website, they largely criticized Peter Tatchell's motivations. They picketed the MOBO Awards with supporters carrying signs saying 'Enraged by OutRage!' and 'Defend reggae music'.
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Black Music Council) (Jamaica Gleaner) (New Statesman: Peter Tatchell's answer) (video of Black Music Council protesting)

October 1, 2004: Jamaica's corporate sponsors warn the dancehall artists to clean up their act
Six of Jamaica's biggest sponsors (Red Stripe, Wray & Nephew, Digicel, Cable & Wireless, Courts and the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB),) are threatening to withdraw support from the local entertainment industry if dancehall artists continue to make violent lyrics a part of their musical repertoire.
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Jamaica Gleaner) (Jamaica Observer)

October 5, 2004: Clash: Gays vs Dancehall
Jamaican dancehall academic and researcher Donna P Hope, who is a doctoral candidate in Cultural Studies at George Mason University made her contribuation to the debate by writing the article 'Clash: Gays Vs. Dancehall', which was published in Jamaica Gleaner in early October. Great defender of dancehall music, she look at gay civil rights movement, criticized OutRage! 'Stop Murder Music' campaign, brings realistic hypothesis that explains the growth of dancehall homophobic lyrics and do not esitate to point the finger at how Jamaicans are responding toward the international boycott.
(
Jamaica Gleaner (Part I)) (Jamaica Gleaner (Part 2))

NOTE: Although I don't like how she minimised dancehall lyrics that advocate death and how she ridiculized the effort made by overseas gay activists to challenge these unacceptable hatered lyrics, I must admit that this article covers a lot of ground that are usually unexpored by other writers and she greatly brings to light a Jamaican point of view of the crisis. I consider this two-part article as a 'must-read' in order to understand every aspect of the conflict.

November 4, 2004: Sizzla UK tour is cancelled
Sizzla's entire UK tour was cancelled, after he had been refused a visa to enter the country. Some of the venues ensured that Sizzla sign a contract that he would not performed offensive material, but the increasing number of protests by gay rights organisations, the New Scottland Yard investigation on dancehall singers along with the death of a gay barman in London the previous weekend were all part of the decision to cancel the tour.
(
BBC News) (The Guardian)

November 7, 2004: Two nominations are dropped at the Urban Music Awards
Just two days prior to the event, Vybz Kartel and Beenie Man were dropped from the cathegory Best Reggae Act at Britain's Urban Music Awards. The official reason given was the fact that the nominees were not British, but a Unicef official insisted that the acts had been dropped because of concerns about their alleged homophobia. (The Guardian)

November 16, 2004: Human Rights Watch publishes a report on Jamaica's homophobia
Human Rights Watch published a 79-page report entitled: Hated To Death: Homophobia, Violence, and Jamaica's HIV/AIDS Epidemic. The public relations officer for the Jamaica Police Federation, comissioner Sergeant David White, upset by the compromising informations published on Jamaican police brutality against gays and lesbians, information found in both Amnesty International report and Human Rights Watch report. He wrote an open letter to the Jamaican Observer newspaper, in which he tried to put down the effort of the two organizations, refering to the organizations as 'so-called human rights groups and lobbyists'. (79-page report) (Sergeant David White's letter to the Jamaica Observer)

November 21, 2004: The 'No Apology' concert in Miami
NO APOLOGY! was definitely the reverberating theme of the night for the Caribbean Reggae Fest 2004, which featured artists like Beenie Man, Bounty Killer, Capleton, Sizzla, Vybz Kartel, Spragga Benz, Lady Saw, Richie Spice, Chuck Fender, I-Wayne, Tanto-Metro and Devonte, Baby Cham, Assassin and too many more to mention. Just a few days before the day the show was to be held at Bicentennial Park on Sunday, November 21, it became known to many members of the press that some of the South Florida Gay Community were making concerted efforts to shut the show down. Of significance here is the fact that almost all of the main Dancehall Reggae artists who had been targeted by gay activists recently, particularly by the group OutRage! hailing from England, were on the bill for the Caribbean Reggae Fest 2004, the key notable exception being T.O.K...Vybz Kartel was the first artist to state overtly to the audience, "No Apology" as he made his way onto the stage. And if people were still wondering what he was talking about, a few minutes into his set it became very evident, as he constantly commented that he didn't support certain lifestyles. A little after Vybz Kartel left the stage, Bounty Killer came on stage with a vengeance. "No Apology" were the first words to be uttered from Bounty's lips. (MORE ON THE LINK BELOW)
(
RootzReggae)

November 22, 2004: UK Minister is warning the Caribbean: Homophobic songs will spread HIV
HIV/Aids is spreading faster in the Caribbean than anywhere else in the world except sub-Saharan Africa, with a prevalence rate of 2.3% infected and 3% in some countries, such as Haiti. Discrimination against homosexuals, largely fed by dancehall music, is preventing many gays and heterosexuals from being tested. (BBC News) (The Guardian) (The Economist) (DFID Press Release)

December 26, 2004: Sizzla arrested for profane language
Sizzla was arrested while performing at the Red Label wine East Fest in St. Thomas (Jamaica) on December 26, under Jamaica's Town and Country Act for "using bad words". However, the arrest was not related to expressing his view on homosexuality. On February 2nd, two weeks after pleading guilty, Sizzla was sentenced to 15 days behind bars after he refused to perform 20 hours of community service. However he won a court appeal on March 16 and it was ruled that he should pay a fine of just $2,000 Jamaican (approx. $33 US) instead of serving time.
(
The Star) (Reuters) (RadioJamaica) (Jamaica Observer) (The Advocate) (BBC)

NOTE: Sizzla was also detained and questioned by the police for 4 days in March 2005 after finding 13 high-powered weapons in August Town, in an area know as "Sizzla's Corner": (
JahWork.org)

December 30, 2004: The French senate votes a new law: 'Against discrimination – Pro equality'
The singers that want to sing 'Battyboy' songs in France better hold their breath. The French government voted a new law (No. 2004-1486): One year of prison or a fine of 45,000 Euros (59,000$US) for people found guilty of hatred provocation, violence or discrimination based on sexual orientation. (legifrance)