By Peter Tatchell
LONDON, October 7, 2009 – Jamaican reggae and dancehall singer Buju Banton is currently on a major US concert tour. Already many of his concerts have been axed as a result of LGBT protests. Our congratulations and thanks to US activists.
This briefing sets out the case against Banton and why his concert tour should be stopped.
Jamaican LGBT group (J-Flag) want a global boycott of Buju Banton over his repeated violations of the Reggae Compassionate Act (RCA). They want his US concerts cancelled. So do black LGBT groups in the UK.
Banton has not truly changed one iota. He was offered a truce many times since 2004 and he rejected or reneged every time. He broke his promises.
For many years and on many occasions, the Stop Murder Music (SMM) campaign offered to call off the campaign against him if he stopped encouraging, glorifying and promoting the murder the LGBT people and promised to not do so in the future. Banton refused.
Yes, Buju signed the Reggae Compassionate Act in 2007. It is signed under his real name, Mark Myrie.
His signing was brokered by UK and European reggae agents and promoters who have since felt that Buju has betrayed them by reneging on the RCA.
Just weeks after Banton signed the RCA he denied signing it and denounced the RCA (in the Jamaican media). He has repeatedly violated it by performing Boom Bye Bye since he signed the RCA.
From the early 1990s, when he first released the song, he has sold and profited from Boom Bye Bye (mostly on compilation albums).
His signing of the RCA is worthless. Nothing Banton says can be relied upon.
August 2007 - Buju Banton told the London police and the management of the Brixton Academy (a major London music venue) on Sunday 12 August 2007 that he has NOT and will NOT sign the RCA (despite having done so).
Buju was invited to sign the RCA on Sunday 12 August 2007 just before his London concert and he refused to do. In order that his concert could go ahead, Buju's people previously gave the police and venue management the false impression that he would sign. But at the last minute he refused to do so. Perhaps this was a trick all along? As a result of his failure to honour this pledge, the venue management told me and the police that they would never allow Banton to perform at the Brixton Academy again.
Buju has performed Boom Bye Bye after signing the Reggae Compassionate Act and has abused gay rights groups with the epithet “Fuck them”– http://www.allbusiness.com/services/amusement-recreation-services/4744013-1.html
In 2004 and 2005 Banton was claiming that he no longer performs Boom Bye Bye. This is not true. Here is video proof that Buju Banton was STILL performing Boom Bye Bye after he claimed that he was not performing it – Miami concert, 29 May 2006 – http://youtube.com/watch?v=l0Eg4Dd9NY4
More evidence: US concert organisers switched off Banton’s mike after they deemed he had attempted to sing Boom Bye Bye at New York’s Reggae CariFest on Randall’s Island, New York, on 25 August 2007 – after he signed the RCA. .
On 27 October 2007, Buju Banton sang part of Boom Bye Bye at the Guyana Music Festival - after he signed the RCA – http://www.voice-online.co.uk/content.php?show=12309
So much for his PR company’s claim that the song was 17 years ago and that he has since “moved on” and put the song behind him.
Although he was not convicted of involvement in a gay-bash attack in that took place in Jamaica in 2004, many people believe he may not have been innocent. Some of his gay victims were too afraid to testify against him. They feared being killed.
The Jamaican police seemed to collude to protect Banton from arrest and charges – taking one year to execute a warrant for his arrest and then only after international pressure. They did little to gather the necessary evidence. he poor quality of the police investigation and prosecution contributed to Banton not being convicted.
Banton has been given so many chances to drop his incitements to kill LGBT people. He has refused, or agreed and then gone back on his word.
The context and issues to consider
Would a venue host a white racist singer who had encouraged and glorified the murder of African American people?
The criterion for opposing incitements to homophobic murder should, in my opinion, be the same as for incitements to racist murder. Zero tolerance for both.
This is not a free speech issue. Incitement to murder is a criminal offence in Jamaica and the US. Free speech does not include the right to incite the killing of other human beings.
Everyone has a right to be spared threats to kill them. Homophobic songs that contain threats to kill ‘batty men’ diminish freedom of speech because LGBT people are cowed into silence and invisibility.
They are not able to speak freely. Not a single LGBT Jamaican is able to be open, because they would be killed. Where is their freedom of speech?
In Jamaica, Boom Bye Bye is still hailed as an anti-gay anthem, and is sung by mobs when they attack LGBT people. When the leader of the Jamaican gay rights movement, Brian Williamson was brutally murdered in a homophobic attack in 2004, crowds gathered outside his house to cheer and to sing Boom Bye Bye.
We are asking venues to show compassion for the LGBT people of Jamaica by refusing to host a singer who has contributed to their pain, suffering and death.
People like Buju Banton, who sing about killing LGBTs, should not be rewarded with concerts and money.