Gay groups call on Grammys to condemn ‘homophobic’ Buju Banton

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US gay groups have called on organisers of this weekend’s Grammy Awards to denounce nominee Buju Banton.

Banton, whose real name is Mark Anthony Myrie, was nominated in the Best Reggae Album category for Rasta Got Soul. This is his fourth Grammy nomination.

He will not appear at Sunday’s ceremony as he is currently in a Florida jail awaiting drug offence charges.

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Centre, with more than 20 other groups, took out a full-page ad today in Hollywood showbusiness newspaper Daily Variety to protest at the honour.

The ad, in the form of a letter, said nominating Banton “honours his extraordinary hateful work.”, Reuters reported.

It added that Grammy organisers should use the ceremony to denounce any music which “promotes or celebrates violence against any group of people”.

The artist had a string of gigs cancelled last year in the US after protests from gay groups. He is most famous for the 1988 song Boom Bye Bye, which 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 many years but video footage shows him singing it at a concert in 2006.

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 and was filmed singing Boom Bye Bye at a gig in 2006.

Banton was arrested in December in Miami on a charge of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute more than five kilos of cocaine.

He maintains he is innocent and was set up by police officers. If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in jail.