‘Homophobic’ reggae star meets with gay groups

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Buju Banton, the Jamaican reggae artist who has been accused of homophobia, has met with gay groups to hear their concerns.

Banton’s notorious 1988 hit Boom Bye Bye appears to incite the burning, shooting in the head and pouring acid over the faces of gay people. Banton claims he has not performed the song live for years but video footage shows him singing it at a concert in 2006.

In the last few month, gay rights activists have been working to derail his planned US tour. Gigs in major US cities such as Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Richmond, Virginia, have all been cancelled by promoters concerned about the adverse publicity.

On Monday, the singer met with four activists in San Francisco before a planned concert. They asked him to donate to Jamaican gay group JFLAG and hold a town meeting in Kingston to speak out about gay rights.

Banton rejected these suggestions, to the frustration of those present.

The meeting was arranged by San Francisco supervisor Bevan Dufty and included gay rights activists Rebecca Rolfe, Andrea Shorter and Michael Petrelis.

Petrelis described the meeting as a positive step, but said the campaign to stop Banton’s concerts would continue.

He said: “Our hope is that we will continue to speak with him and his representatives to address the pervasive hatred gays face in Jamaica, and work together to reduce homo-hate.

“I believe Buju fully understands that today’s meeting was a beneficial first step and that the gay community will want more concrete steps taken, before our actions against his concerts cease.

In July 2007 the star 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.

Hours after the meeting with gay groups, Banton performed at the Rockit Room in Inner Richmond.

Police had to break up tensions between gay demonstrators and Banton’s fans, who traded accusations of homophobia and racism.