Akim Larcher's Stop Murder Music

Akim Larcher is a dear friend of mine. How I remember my childhood crush on Akim. My cousins (all girls) and I would run after Akim when he took the little shortcut footpath by my granny's old home. Akim would take this path to go to the neighborhood bakery. I could see him now ... running with his slippers and a bag in his hand, as he saw us closing in. LOL! We waited like vultures for his return and disappointingly he never returned. I suppose he had no choice but to take the long way home!

In my teens, I was fortunate to get to know him better. We were then neighbours in Miami. Akim is lots of fun, very articulate and smart. I have thoroughly enjoyed the moments I've spent with him. This is why it is important for me to tell you about his fight for his human rights.

The Stop Murder Music (Canada) campaign arose out of Akim Larcher's initial visit to a local West-Indian store. Akim tells his story:

" Whilst purchasing my usual jerk chicken, rice and peas (red beans only please) and curry chicken sauce, I stumbled across a Canadian Tour by Elephant Man. Over the last years, I have become ever so upset and active in bring education and awareness about violent lyrics in dancehall. Primarily, I am concerned with anti-gay lyrics but I am also concerned of the sexism that exists in dancehall music, and for that matter West-Indian music.

In any event, in an effort to send a clear message that "murder music" does not belong in Canada I founded the Stop Murder Music (Canada) campaign. "Murder music" is the term used to refer to lyrics that incite violence and murder against lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and trans-identified communities across the globe. My efforts were fruitful, as over 20 organizations who service the African and Caribbean communities in Canada joined my voice in asking the government to deny Elephant Man and Sizzla entry to Canada."

Akim Larcher's, Stop Murder Music (Canada) was the coalition responsible for the cancellation of concerts in Toronto and St. Catharine’s by dancehall artists Elephant Man and Sizzla. Both of these Caribbean icons are known for lyrics advocating killing queers. (Sizzla’s single “Pump Up” goes “Fire fi di man dem weh go ride man behind/Shot battyboy, my big gun boom.” It’s Patois but the call to burn and shoot gay “battyboys” is clear.)

Larcher, a Toronto lawyer, is all too familiar that these lyrics are in violation of both the Criminal Code and the Canadian Human Rights Act, Larcher and the coalition have sparked a public debate about censorship. Larcher says musicians should not be rewarded financially for “hate propaganda.” Even if these performers promise not to sing the songs in Canada, Larcher says they’re still singing them back home (Caribbean), a place where queers can be arrested, mobbed and murdered without consequence. This year alone, 98 gay and lesbian people have been attacked in 43 separate incidents.

Akim Larcher knows firsthand about this kind of violence. When he lived in St.Lucia, he was confronted by passing groups of kids telling him, “We know you are a battyman.” Things escalated when he and his then-partner had a knife pulled on them while they were shopping. “The only reason the police investigated was because of who my father is, otherwise nothing would have been done.”

Being attacked by four men at an outdoor concert was his breaking point. “I always lived as an openly gay man with my family,” he says, “but I had to leave because I was becoming too wellknown. I feared for my life.” Larcher took advantage of his dual citizenship but knows most Caribbean queers don’t have the option of leaving—it’s them he’s working to help. “As long as I have the breath to effect change, I will bring my voice.”

Akim Larcher's stance is that s West-Indians begin to address the issue of human rights in our homelands. Human Rights include gay rights and we must start to understand that equality and justice for all are necessary if we are to grow economically, socially and politically in the Caribbean.

Contact email for Akim Larcher: Akim_Larcher@egale.ca
For more information on Stop Murder Music, visit Egale Canada

Read an article by Akim Larcher in a Guyanese Newpaper: Stabroek News

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