Australia rethinks Snoop Dogg visa approval

CANBERRA (Reuters) - Australia is re-thinking a decision to give gangsta rapper Snoop Dogg a visa after public complaints that he should not tour in October in a double act with Ice Cube, an immigration official said on Tuesday.

Rapper Snoop Dogg performs at the 2008 Wango Tango concert in Irvine, California May 10, 2008. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Snoop Dogg, whose real name is Cordozar Calvin Broadus Jr., was refused permission to even apply for a visa to enter Australia in 2007 because of his criminal record, sinking plans for him to co-host the MTV Australia Video Music Awards.

But immigration officials this week cleared the way for an October tour visit, until a spate of public complaints from Australian victims of crime groups on Tuesday.

“As a result of public concern and interest, the department has decided that in fact we will be undertaking a more thorough assessment of Mr Broadus’ character,” a senior immigration official told Reuters.

The decision does not mean Snoop Dogg will again be barred from Australia, but he could be counseled before arrival and given strict behavior rules to abide by while in the country.

Snoop Dogg was first barred by Australia’s former conservative government, which lost power last year to the centre-left Labor government of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. Labor has steadily softened tough immigration laws while in power.

Critics say Snoop Dogg’s lyrics are racist and sexist. The rapper has sold over 17 million records.

His criminal record counts several drugs and firearms charges since 1990, including a 1993 acquittal for murder. He has also been denied entry to Britain.

After learning of a change of heart by officials on barring the controversial rapper, Australian victims of crime groups complained to the government to have the decision overturned.

“Snoop Dogg trades in toxic messages of menace, violence, misogyny and lawlessness,” Angela Conway, of the Australian Family Association, told the Herald Sun newspaper.

The immigration official said a fresh assessment of an approval for Snoop Dogg to apply for a visa -- clearing the way for a 17-day visit from October 21 -- had already begun.

“We’ve advised his tour promoter and he and Mr Broadus will have an opportunity to respond. We clearly will look at his criminal history,” he said.

Editing by Paul Tait