United Kingdom: Brighton first city to outlaw ‘hate music’



United Kingdom:
Brighton first city to outlaw “hate music”

The British seaside town Brighton has become the first place in the UK to ban music that “incites hatred towards minorites”. The new rule could stop some hip hop and reggae acts from putting on gigs in the city.

Music which encourages violence towards minority groups has been banned in Brighton and Hove in the first move of its kind in the United Kingdom. Proposals to outlaw so-called ‘murder music’ in venues, pubs and clubs have been agreed by the Brighton and Hove City Council as part of a review of the city’s licensing policy. The ban has been endorsed by two committees and is set to be approved by the full council on 13 December 2007.

In 2006, the concert hall Concorde 2 in Brighton cancelled a gig with the Jamaican artist Buju Banton after the council had threatened to withdraw Concorde 2’s licence.

“Brighton and Hove is regarded as the gay capital of England. We decided we should take a stand against the record stores,” said Brighton councillor Simon Williams in an interview earlier this year. “Whilst freedom of expression is valid in most cases, it ceases to be valid when you are talking about incitement to murder people.”

The Brighton councillors also want music retailers HMV, Virgin Megastore and MVC to stop selling albums with homophobic lyrics in its Brighton and Hove branches.

“We do not condone such lyrics, but customers should be able to make their own choices,” sounded an initial reaction from an HMV spokesman at the time when the ‘murder music’ ban was first proposed.

A document outlines that the measures have been introduced to improve well-being and safety of all the communities in the city on the south coast of England. It reads:

    “Licensing policy supports the crime and disorder reduction partnership’s crime reduction strategy. In particular it seeks to confront and reduce racist, homophobic, transphobic and religiously motivated crimes, incidents and antisocial behaviour. Particular attention will be paid to any licensed premises where there is evidence of criminal activity or any association with racist or homophobic crime.”

Councillor Dee Simson, head of licensing, said: “In Brighton and Hove we have a good record on equalities and we felt it was important was important to include this in the licensing policy. We do not want music that incites racial or homophobic hatred.”

Inspector Bill Whitehead, head of licensing for Brighton and Hove, welcomed the move but said it would have to be carefully balanced with free speech. He is quoted by the Argus newspaper as saying: “It is not our job to censor but people do need to recognise the law and stay within its bounds. Whilst I recognise and support what the council want to put in place we need to be careful to ensure people’s right to free speech is not curtailed.”

BBC’s Radio 1 established an online debate forum about the topic, asking its listeners: “Do you agree with the ban? Do you think it’ll work? Is it a danger to freedom of expression? Would you like to see the ban where you live?”

Click on the link below to read the many comments, or take part in the debate yourself.

    ‘Ade from Brighton’ writes:
    “I agree its not right to abuse any minority, BUT dont you think its scary if people start actaully banning things? Why not just boycott the artist or venue or have your say peacefully? Its not this particular news article that worries me, its where it will end!!!”

    ‘mr smith’ writes:
    “No I do not agree with the ban as music is about freedom of speech. how I see it if someone has the right to parade round expressing there feelings in public then someone has the right record what they feel on a track and if this track becomes popular in a certain area then it shouldn’t be banned.”

BBC Radio 1 – 5 December 2007:
‘Have your say: Ban on ‘anti-gay’ music?’

See video report

BBC News – 5 December 2007:

‘Clamping down on music’


The Argus – 4 December 2007:

‘Murder hate music banned’

BBC News – 5 December 2007:

‘City set to outlaw ‘murder music’ ‘

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