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August 31, 2009


Buju Banton is a Jamaican reggae performer whose music includes some of the most virulently violent lyrics ever written. Many of his songs advocate beating, torturing and killing gays, lesbians and transgenders.

Obviously, this is homophobia in its extreme. But given the culture Banton comes from, it's not really a very big surprise. As I've written about before, the current Jamaican government strongly supports and encourages violence towards anyone who is, or even just appears to be, gay. As many of you know, because of the intransigence of the government's position, Jamaica is still under a large scale boycott of the island and the island's exports.

Well now, because of his unwillingness to capitulate to the concerns of the worldwide GLBT community and other civil rights, humanitarian and anti-violence organizations, Buju Banton is paying the price. In fact, he may very well end up sacrificing his entire career to his homophobic hatreds.

According to a story at LezGetReal.com, Banton was scheduled to kickoff a US tour with appearances at House Of Blues locations in Chicago, Las Vegas, Dallas and Houston as well as a number of other venues throughout the country.

When news of this second attempt at a US tour reached the LA Gay & Lesbian Center, a campaign was organized, with help from the liberal website change.org, to stop the tour.

In a very short period of time, promoter Live Nation, which owns the House Of Blues venues, received nearly a thousand angry calls from the GLBT community and our supporters. They quickly issued a statement canceling all of Benton's US appearances.

To give you a little background as to why Benton is still shunned, LGR also reported:

Banton has drawn the anger of gay activist groups for years, in large part because of the violently homophobic lyrics of his 1992 single “Boom Bye Bye,” which proposes pouring acid on homosexuals and shooting them in the head.

In 2004 he was also tried and acquitted on charges that he participated in the beating of six gay men by a gang in Jamaica.

Two years ago, Banton signed up to the Reggae Compassionate Act, promising not to perform songs that advocate homophobia, in a deal brokered by Stop Murder Music activists.

He later denied that he had made any such commitment.

Lorri L. Jean, CEO of the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center issued a statement that said:

“I hope this victory sends a deafeningly loud message to other promoters and concert venues that singers who glorify violence against LGBT people, or any group of people, should never be welcomed. It shouldn’t be necessary for us to pressure promoters to do the right thing; people like Banton should never have been booked in the first place.”

Box Turtle Bulletin is keeping a close eye on other scheduled performances by Banton. "In addition to the four House of Blues dates mentioned earlier, AEG Live/Goldenvoic have announced the cancellations of scheduled concerts in Los Angeles (Oct. 14), in San Francisco (Oct. 10), and Philadelphia (Sept. 12)."

Check out Box Turtle Bulletin's blog story. In it, they list dates and locations for other scheduled performances throughout the country.

As more of us find out about Banton and his US Tour, more pressure will be put on the remaining venues that haven't canceled his appearances yet. If you see your city listed in BTB's published itinerary, call or email that establishment and voice your concerns. It would also be very effective if you notified your local media and/or wrote a letter to the editors of your local newspapers letting them know the kind of person who's coming to their town to perform.