LONDON, September 27 – UK gay
human rights group Outrage! will be paying particular attention to a trail
in a Jamaican court on Friday when Mark Myrie, better known as reggae
singer Buju Banton, answers charges of assault.
Jamaican police allege that Banton
was one of a group of men who forced their way into a house on Carlisle
Avenue in Kingston on June 24 last year and beat six men who they accused of
being gay, according to the
Jamaica Observer newspaper (23 September).
Myrie was allowed out on bail of
$J50,000 (£450, €665, $US800) after he pleaded not guilty to the charges of
assault at the Corporate Area Resident Magistrate's Court.
As a condition of his bail, the
court ordered the rastafarian entertainer to report to the Constant Spring
Police Station every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday.
“This trial is test case on whether
gay people can get justice in Jamaica,” said Brett Lock of OutRage!, which
has spearheaded an international solidarity campaign with anti-homophobia
groups in Jamaica.
“Some Jamaicans fear that Mr
Banton’s celebrity and the strongly homophobic attitudes that exist in
Jamaica will deny justice to the victims of what was a horrific homophobic
“We pay tribute to the police
officers who eventually pressed ahead with these charges, despite huge
pressure not to do so. It our hope that the court will show similar resolve.
“OutRage! salutes the courageous
struggle of gay and human rights groups in Jamaica to challenge violence
against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. We support their
“A warrant for Mr Banton’s arrest
was issued last June, just days after the alleged assault.
“Jamaican police and prosecutors
were heavily criticised by Jamaican human rights groups for failing to
execute the warrant. There were allegations that some senior officers were
protecting the singer from the due process of law.
“Buju Banton became notorious in
the early 1990s with his violently homophobic hit single, Boom Bye Bye,
which incited his audience to shoot “batty boys” (queers) in the head, pour
acid over them and set them on fire.
“He continues to perform Boom Bye
Bye and re-released it on two compilation albums (Best of… and Strictly the
Best 9). The albums are still on sale and Mr Banton continues to earn
royalties from Boom Bye Bye’s murderous incitements,” said Mr Lock.
Buju Banton is one of eight reggae
dancehall artistes who have faced protests from gay and human rights groups
in Jamaica, Europe and the United States for their gay-bashing lyrics.
These protests have been
coordinated by the Stop Murder Music campaign group, led by the UK gay
rights organisations, OutRage! and the Black Gay Mens Advisory Group, and by
the Jamaican gay rights movement, J-Flag.
Dozens of concerts have been
cancelled as a result of the campaign, which has cost the artists, promoters
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