The organisers of the international reggae festival Raggamuffin have removed the "King Of The Dancehall" Beenie Man from its 2016 line-up.
Raggamuffin Music Festival is an annual event that tours Australia and New Zealand and usually includes popular reggae, hip-hip, funk, dub and soul acts. Beenie Man was removed following concerns raised by the New Zealand gay community.
Raggamuffin had included the Grammy Award-winning artiste after being assured that his past homophobic comments and lyrics had been retracted. However, concerns were raised by popular New Zealand LGBT movement GayNZ forcing Raggamuffin organisers to seek clarity from the artist about his stance on homosexuality.
It is reported that they offered Beenie the opportunity to publicly state his support of the gay community and retract his past lyrics. However, Raggamuffin spokesperson Brotha D (Danny Leaoasavaii) said Beenie Man failed to answer questions about his past lyrics and his current stance on the gay community.
“ ... based on this, we have removed him from the line-up," the spokesperson said.
“We took the concerns of the gay community very seriously and sought to address them with Beenie Man. Raggamuffin is a family festival and we do not discriminate on the basis of race, gender or sexuality. After being made fully aware of his past comments and lyrics, and continued homophobic attitude the Raggamuffin team made the decision to remove him from the festival line-up,” Leaoasavaii further stated.
Beenie Man has been replaced by Jamaican reggae and reggae fusion artiste Diana King.
The singer, whose chart-topping hits have included ‘Shy Guy’ and a cover version of Dione Warwick’s ‘I Say A Little Prayer’, is known as the first Jamaican artist to publicly come out as gay.