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Last Updated: Monday, 6 September, 2004, 16:15 GMT 17:15 UK
Gay group calls for Mobo TV ban
Elephant Man
Elephant Man is accused of promoting homophobia
Gay rights protesters have urged the BBC to drop coverage of the Music of Black Origin (Mobo) awards in a dispute over "homophobic" artists.

They say the BBC should not show the ceremony unless Mobo organisers withdraw nominations for Jamaican acts Elephant Man and Vybz Kartel.

Protest group OutRage! says the artists promote homophobia in their lyrics. Mobo has said these were "old" songs.

A BBC spokesman said a highlights show would go ahead on 6 October.

Meanwhile, nearly two thirds of readers of The Observer newspaper who voted in a poll on the issue have backed OutRage's position on the BBC.

Singers who advocate the murder of minority groups should be shunned
Peter Tatchell, OutRage!
According to Sunday's paper, 63% called on the BBC to boycott the show. No Observer spokesman was immediately available to say how many people had voted in the poll.

Mobo was not available to comment on reports that Elephant Man and Vybz Kartel were due to release statements distancing themselves from their "homophobic" back catalogue.

A spokesman for the BBC has said that under producer's guidelines it would not broadcast any homophobic lyrics.

But OutRage! argues this does not go far enough and has written to BBC director general Mark Thompson and chairman Michael Grade.

Jamelia is among this year's Mobo nominees
The group's spokesman, Peter Tatchell, said: "By giving them coverage, the BBC will be boosting their reputations, publicising them to a wider audience, and lending credibility and legitimacy to their violent hate-mongering."

He claimed Elephant Man and Vybz Kartel had recorded and performed songs which urged listeners to attack and kill lesbian and gay people.

"Singers who advocate the murder of minority groups should be shunned, not rewarded with prime-time exposure on national television..." he said.

Elephant Man and Vybz Kartel are both up for best reggae single. The awards take place in London on 30 September.

Mobo has said the nominations in question are for single tracks only and do not relate to past offensive material.

Fellow Jamaican reggae artist Beenie Man recently issued a statement through his record company, apologising for using homophobic lyrics.

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