Buju Banton has not apologized for his homophobic lyrics

Dear Editor,

SASOD, the prominent Gay/Human Rights body in Guyana, recently invited the Guyana Government to denounce the promotion of societal homophobia. The move was prompted by the expected arrival of the Dance Hall Entertainer, Buju Banton, who is slated to perform in the South American nation on October 27, 2007.

Buju Banton, as you know, has long been the poster child of Homophobia and has deservingly spawned the wrath of the world gay community. Many progressive countries have barred performances by the provocative entertainer and cited his lyrics as hate mongering. Using the power of his medium, Buju Banton has called for indis-criminate assassination of law abiding gay citizens. This according to human rights groups, slithers into territories of hate crimes and should not be condoned by civilized governments.

The entertainer’s publicist Tracii McGregor in a letter to the Stabroek News, attempted to defend Buju Banton’s track record on these hate lyrics. Her attempt to give the singer a civilized image must however be questioned. After being asked by the gay community to remove the “boom bye bye” song from his musical lineup, Ms McGregor confirmed that the singer defiantly played it recently at an international venue. She explained that the song was played to call attention to his “ongoing” persecution by gay rights groups and claimed he has “moved on” since the song was created in his teenage years. Contrary to what Ms McGregor stated, I have it on good authority that the singer chose to sing the song at the venue to rally his homophobic audience since it was one of their favourite anti-gay anthems. Buju Banton has publicly refused to apologise for the innocent lives the song has ruined and will not sign on to the agreement entered into by three of the Top Dancehall DJs to not play hate lyrics that are directed at gays. Let no-one be fooled by Ms McGregor’s letter. Gays who were beaten, killed and maimed as a consequence of Buju Banton’s hate lyrics are the real victims and certainly not Buju Banton.

It is in this backdrop that the GHRA and the Ethnic Relations Committee (ERC) should be morally bound to add their voices to SASOD and call on the Guyanese President to denounce this hate mongering artiste from inflicting psychological trauma to its gay population. The Jagdeo Administration could very well draw from the experiences of the USA Senator, Larry Craig. It is important to foster Gay Positive environments so that this safety net can be an available resource to persons when needed.

The ERC has an obligation to show leadership in the protection of all citizens and not just the religious heterosexual segment.

Yours faithfully,

Berkeley Van Bowen

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