BBC interview with homophobic reggae star sparks protests

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A BBC radio interview with a reggae singer known for anti gay lyrics sparked complaints from gay activists this week.

BBC radio station, 1Xtra, compiled a package celebrating dancehall culture and included an interview with Buju Banton, an artist who became notorious in the early 1990s with his homophobic hit single, Boom Bye Bye, which incited his audience to shoot gay people in the head in the head, pour acid over them and set them on fire.

The song Boom Bye Bye, which featured in the broadcast, says, “The world is in trouble, anytime Buju Banton come batty boy get up and run, ah gunshot in ah head man Tell dem crew… it’s like Boom bye bye, in a batty boy head, rude boy nah promote no nasty man, them hafi dead.

Five people complained about the BBC station using the anti gay star, real name Mark Myrie after gay group Outrage issued a statement condemning the show.

A BBC1Xtra spokeswoman said an excerpt from the song was used to give context to the controversy in Banton’s career, the presenter said on the show “Boom bye bye was massive in reggae circles and there was a massive disruption…In 1991 Buju recorded ‘Boom bye bye’, the track caused outrage,” and then the excerpt was played.

The spokeswoman defended the decision to feature the artist in the programme, she told “Dancehall reggae is an important genre for 1Xtra’s listeners and the station broadcasts a Dancehall special every year. The idea is to celebrate the genre and reflect the breadth of dancehall culture back to our listeners.

“This year 1Xtra’s ‘ Dancehall after dark’ week comprised a variety of shows such as documentary on Haile Selassie and a live concert with Damian Marley. Also part of this was a conversation with Buju Banton, a key artist from the genre whose story interests 1Xtra’s listeners.

“1Xtra always adheres to strict BBC guidelines and on this occasion an excerpt from the record was played to put in context the discussion about the controversy which surrounded Buju Banton during his career.”