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National News
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by Rex Wockner - SGN Contributing Writer

iTunes reportedly pulls dancehall songs
Following a joint campaign by the Canadian national Gay-lobby group Egale and Stop Murder Music (Canada), iTunes apparently has removed anti-Gay songs by popular Jamaican dancehall singers Buju Banton, Elephant Man and T.O.K. from its North American service.

"This is a historic victory for the LGBT community," said Akim Adé Larcher of Stop Murder Music. "iTunes is exercising its corporate responsibility by pulling this murder music and raising the bar for other retailers and distributors to do the same."

Several Jamaican dancehall singers have a history of bashing Gays in their lyrics, including, in some cases, calling for them to be killed. Banton's 1992 hit "Boom Bye Bye," for example, advocates shooting Gay men, dumping acid on them and setting them alight.

Its lyrics include: "Boom bye bye / Inna batty bwoy head / Rude bwoy no promote no nasty man / Dem haffi dead / ... Send fi di matic an / Di Uzi instead / Shoot dem no come if we shot dem / ... Guy come near we / Then his skin must peel / Burn him up bad like an old tire wheel."

"Batty bwoy" is a pejorative Jamaican term for "Gay man."

In their communications with Apple, Larcher and Egale Executive Director Helen Kennedy said such lyrics are illegal in Canada.

"Incitement of violence and murder offends Canadian law," they wrote. "Sections 318 and 319 of the Criminal Code make it criminal offences to advocate killing members of a group, or to publicly incite or promote hatred based on a person's sexual orientation. Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act prohibits Internet communications & of messages that expose or that are likely to expose a person to hatred on the basis of their sexual orientation."

The songs iTunes apparently deleted include T.O.K.'s "Chi-Chi Man," Elephant Man's "Log On" and Banton's "Boom Bye Bye."

Apple's public relations office in Cupertino, Calif., and the company's director of marketing in Canada did not return a reporter's calls seeking comment.

However, the reporter confirmed that the songs are unavailable on the service and, by chance, the reporter previously had downloaded "Boom Bye Bye" from iTunes during research for an earlier story.

Mormon leadership to meet with Gays
Leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons) have agreed to meet with the Gay Mormon group Affirmation in August, the Salt Lake Tribune reported April 8.

The meeting was authorized by the church's new president, Thomas S. Monson.

Affirmation's assistant executive director, Dave Melson, told the Tribune the group's members hope to discuss such things as Gay Mormons being kicked out of their homes for coming out, being told to marry someone of the opposite sex to fix their problem, and being expelled from Brigham Young University for going to Gay bars.

Melson further wants the church to stop supporting anti-Gay legislation, stop calling homosexuality a "disease" or "lifestyle choice" and stop teaching homophobia "as a family value."

Tutu addresses Gay group in San Francisco
In his first speech before a large U.S. Gay group, South African Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu addressed the annual awards ceremony of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco on April 8.

"How sad it is that the church should be so obsessed with this particular issue of human sexuality when God's children are facing massive problems - poverty, disease, corruption, conflict," Tutu said.

About 500 people attended the gala, where Tutu was presented with IGLHRC's "Outspoken" award recognizing his decades of vocal support for GLBT rights and equality.

IGLHRC Executive Director Paula Ettelbrick called Tutu "a moral luminary whose inclusive approach to human rights advocacy paves the way for a better world."

Detroit, Kansas City pass Transgender protections
The city councils of Detroit and Kansas City passed laws banning discrimination against Transgender people in early April.

The vote in Detroit was 8-1 and in Kansas City it was unanimous.

"Detroit and Kansas City are just the latest among a growing number of municipalities that have acted to put an end to this pervasive discrimination, and we hope these victories will lay the foundation for statewide protections in Michigan and Missouri," said Rea Carey, deputy executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

Thirteen states, the District of Columbia and 105 cities and counties ban discrimination against Transgender people.

Hillary talks to Gay press
Hillary Clinton told Philadelphia Gay News on April 3 that discrimination against same-sex couples in immigration law is "one of the biggest problems that we've got to contend with."

"Even states that have civil unions, domestic partnerships or even marriage laws are running into roadblocks with the federal government when it comes to federal benefits and privileges," she said. "Of course, immigration is a federal responsibility and I am going to do everything I can to eliminate any disparities in any benefits or rights under our law at the federal level so that all people will have available to them every right as an American citizen that they should, and that would include immigration law."

On same-sex marriage, Clinton told the paper: "[M]arriage is in the province of the state[s], which has actually turned out to be lucky for us, because we didn't have to get beaten on the Federal Marriage Amendment because we could make, among other arguments, that it was such a stretch for the federal government and it was wrong to enshrine discrimination in the Constitution. And that states are really beginning seriously to deal with the whole range of options, including marriage, both under their own state constitutions and under the legislative approach.

"I anticipate that there will be a very concerted amount of effort in the next couple of years that will move this important issue forward and different states will take different approaches as they did with marriage over many years and you will see an evolution over time."

Clinton also said that if elected, she would attempt to punish nations that harshly oppress Gay people, such as Iran, Iraq and Egypt, among others.

"I would be very strongly outspoken about this and it would be part of American foreign policy," she said. "There are a number of gross human-rights abuses that countries engage in with whom we have relations and we have to be really vigilant and outspoken in our total repudiation of those kinds of actions and do everything we can, including using our leverage on matters such as aid, to change the behavior so we can try to prevent such atrocities from happening."

With assistance from Bill Kelley
pictures: top - Akim Ade Larcher
bottom: Desmond Tutu
 

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