Buju Banton In Court Friday After Gay-Bashing Attack



Trial is test case on whether justice exists for gay Jamaicans






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 assault.

“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 campaigns.

“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 and venues losses in excess of £UK5 million.




Outrage! website


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Posted: 27 September 2005 at 13:00 (UK time)