BY KERIL WRIGHT, Jamaica Observer
Montego Bay, St James - The UK-based gay rights group Outrage! says DJ Beenie Man's denial that he signed the group's Reggae Compassionate Act denouncing violence against gays is irrelevant and has invited anyone doubting his claim to view the document on the Outrage! website.
"The denials are irrelevant," said founder and spokesman Peter Tatchell in an e-mailed response to Observer. "We have the signed documents and anyone can view them on the web."
The Grammy-winning Beenie Man denied signing the act following his closing act on the opening night of Red Stripe Reggae Sumfest. At the time the DJ made it clear that although he did not support the gay lifestyle, violence against gays was unnecessary.
But according to Tatchell, the important issue is that signed copies of the act bearing the DJ's signature and the signature of other leading dancehall artistes are posted online for worldwide viewing.
Tatchell said that if needs be the documents, bearing what he insisted were the signatures of Beenie Man, Capleton, Sizzla and Buju Banton - available at www.petertatchell.net - could be authenticated by handwriting experts.
He said the signatures were obtained on the organisation's behalf by a UK reggae promoter and he believed them to be authentic. "I have total confidence that he obtained the signatures of the singers themselves," said Tatchell.
Beenie Man and several other local Reggae artistes suffered severe setbacks to their careers in recent years when gay rights groups, under the Stop Murder Music banner, boycotted their concerts and led a campaign that saw many of them being dropped from a number of European and US tours.
Since the publication of Beenie Man's denial, several gay rights activists have expressed their disappointment with what they view as a move to save his career on the European scene while maintaining the status quo in Jamaica and the wider Caribbean.