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Montréal, October 2, 2007 --- CRARR has formally asked the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission to launch an investigation into Elephant Man and the promoters of his concert scheduled for October 5 in Montreal, to determine whether violations of the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms have occurred.

At a press conference held today in Montreal in cooperation with Gai Écoute, Gay Line and EGALE, Canada’s leading LGBT rights group, CRARR called on all Montrealers who are against hate and violence to pressure Ottawa to deny these artists the permission to stay and make money in the country.

Elephant Man is a dancehall reggae artist from Jamaica and is presently on tour in Canada. He and other dancehall reggae artists such as Sizzla, who is also touring in Canada, have been boycotted in Europe and the US for their public and unrepentant promotion of homophobic violence in their songs.

In the last three weeks, Stop Murder Music (Canada), a coalition of more than 20 LBGT and civil rights organizations in Ontario and Quebec (including CRARR), has pressed federal Citizenship and Immigration Minister Diane Finley to deny and revoke the visa of both Elephant Man and Sizzla. The Canadian Jewish Congress and Olivia Chow, MP (NDP-Ontario) have lent their voices to the campaign to expel artists of hate and to bar them from entering Canada again.

Stop Murder Music (Canada) also wrote to leaders of the Canadian music industry, pressing them to stop supporting homophobic artists and their works. As a result, Toronto’s Kool Haus and the Canadian Auto Workers cancelled three concert bookings with Elephant Man and Sizzla last week.

In 2004, CRARR was the first civil rights group to publicly denounce Sizzla’s concert in Montreal. Although it unsuccessfully sought to lay criminal charges against Sizzla for publicly inciting anti-gay violence in a local media interview, it did get the Toronto Police Service, the Montreal Police Service and the Ontario Attorney General to monitor Sizzla’s concerts closely. Subsequent to the protest, all artists wishing to perform in Canada have to sign a formal pledge with Canada’s foreign office in Kingston, Jamaica, to respect Canadian laws and values on civil rights and other Charter values.

Earlier this year, CRARR intervened before the CRTC, Canada’s broadcast regulator, in the license renewal of CKTU, a university campus radio, to convey its concerns about the station’s role in relation to Sizzla’s concerts in 2004.

CRARR’s other actions against Elephant Man include:

  • Pressing the owner of the Rialto, where Elephant Man will perform this Friday, to cancel the concert, to avoid lending moral and financial support to homophobic violence;
  • Asking the Montreal police to monitor Elephant Man’s performance and other statements
  • and

  • Calling all gay and mixed clubs to stop playing music by artists who advocate homophobic violence.
  • In its request to the Quebec human rights commission, CRARR argues that Elephant Man has become a symbol of discrimination and hate and that concert promoters may be found to have violated s. 11 of the Quebec Charter by displaying and distributing a “sign or symbol involving discrimination.”

    “Hate and murder music undermines fundamental Canadian values of equality, diversity and freedom; it has no place in Canada because it is hate propaganda and it threatens the dignity and security of gays and lesbians,” said CRARR’s Executive Director Fo Niemi.

    “If British historian David Irving was barred from Canada for denying the Holocaust, why are Elephant Man and Sizzla, with their promotion of violence against people because of their sexual orientation, allowed to come in, perform and make money in our country? Are the lives and rights of LBGT Canadians that insignificant?”, he asked.