Carla Gulatta of Amnesty International told The Sunday Gleaner
that the country’s music should be a unifying force rather than a divisive on.Gulatta’s comments came amid the reignition of the debate on the role of music in fuelling discrimination against gays and lesbians and the controversy surrounding Buju Banton’s decision to meet with a gay-rights group in the United States.
“They should use the music as an instrument of joy, happiness and love. Some lyrics can be disrespectful to the audience; some lyrics can mash up the spirit of the famous ‘One Love’,” Gulatta told The Sunday Gleaner.
She was pointing to the Bob Marley classic One Love which was voted ‘Song of the Century’ by the BBC and has been held up around the world as the message associated with reggae music and Jamaica, even with the advent of the more hardcore dancehall.
One Love has been embraced around the globe as an anthem to the human spirit with the title being used as a greeting the world over.
Gulatta said the meeting was “a very relevant step” noting that it could serve as a catalyst for a change in the music produced.
“Buju can keep what he feels but at least he has done something quite important which is opening a dialogue,” Gulatta said.
The movement to generate support for the eradication of hate and discrimination against homosexuality won a major victory in the United States last week when the Senate approved a bill to include violence against homosexuals as hate crimes.
The measure would extend the current definition of federal hate crimes – which covers attacks motivated by race, colour, religion or national origin – to include those based on sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability.
Following the vote, Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said his organisation eagerly awaits President Barack Obama signing the bill into law.
“We look forward to President Obama signing it into law: our nation’s first major piece of civil-rights legislation for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people,” Solmonese said.
Meanwhile, Gulatta has expressed disappointment that Jamaica has not reached the stage where it has guaranteed full rights to all individuals, including gays and lesbians.
Pointing to the Charter of Rights, which is intended to replace Chapter Three of the Constitution, Gulatta warned that the proposed amendment could end up being but a shell if greater steps are not taken to protect the rights of all Jamaicans.
“The full plan of the Charter of Rights, little by little, has changed …. little by little, it has been made poor and poorer. In the way that it is now, it is going to be like a picture on the wall because it won’t have any use for the ones who need to be assisted,” Gulatta said.
The Amnesty International representative wants the amendment to the Constitution to give full freedom of choice to all Jamaicans. She argued that even though it appears that such freedom is guaranteed, there are clauses which take that back.
Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding has made it clear that the laws of the country would not be bent to accommodate gay lifestyles.
“There is the possibility that sometime in the future Parliament could pass a law that says same-sex unions are legal, but it won’t be done in this Parliament – not as long as I sit here,” Golding said last Tuesday.
The prime minister was opening the debate on the Charter of Rights, which is set to replace Chapter Three of the Constitution.