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Last Updated: Monday, 23 August, 2004, 15:43 GMT 16:43 UK
Gay group seeks Mobo awards ban
Beenie Man
OutRage! predicts Beenie Man will be nominated for a Mobo Award
Organisers of the Music of Black Origin awards are refusing to exclude reggae artists who use allegedly homophobic lyrics, say gay rights campaigners.

Gay group OutRage! is concerned that artists who "encourage and glorify the murder of gay people" will appear in an awards shortlist published on Tuesday.

Organisers "are refusing to negotiate" with OutRage! said head Peter Tatchell.

It follows the gay group's protest against 2003 Mobo Award nominees Beenie Man, Elephant Man and Bounty Killer.

'Very concerned'

Mr Tatchell said Mobo chief executive Kanya King declined "repeated requests to open a dialogue" with the gay rights group.

In its most recent open letter to Ms King, dated 22 August, OutRage! asked for "any singer or group who incites or glorifies - either in the past or the present - the murder of lesbians and gay men (or anyone else)" to be made ineligible for a Mobo Award.

The group said it was "very concerned" about the possible inclusion of artists Beenie Man, Buju Banton, Bounty Killer, Elephant Man, Vybz Kartel, Capleton, TOK and Sizzla in the 2004 shortlist.

Peter Tatchell
Mr Tatchell and OutRage! have picketed the Mobos for the past two years
A Mobo Award spokesperson would not comment on whether artists who used homophobic lyrics would be made ineligible for awards.

"We have been bearing this issue in mind for the past six months and are considering our response," the spokesperson said.

"To say we have refused to negotiate with OutRage! is completely inaccurate."

The prestigious awards ceremony will take place at London's Albert Hall on 30 September. It will be screened on BBC One and also covered on Radio 1 and digital station 1Xtra.

Ceremony protest

The gay rights group first picketed outside the Mobo Awards ceremony in 2002.

Mr Tatchell subsequently asked Mobo organisers to withdraw 2003 nominations for "reggae bigots" Beenie Man, Elephant Man and Bounty Killer, but the organisers refused.

The artists were all nominated in the reggae category of the Mobos, but failed to win.

Earlier this month OutRage! asked record giant EMI to cancel Beenie Man's record contract over his allegedly homophobic lyrics.

Beenie Man issued an apology through EMI subsidiary Virgin saying he offered his "sincerest apologies to those who might have been offended, threatened or hurt by my songs".

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