Gay rights are a human rights issue, not part of a wider cultural imperialism

Dear Editor,

I refer to a letter captioned “Banning Buju Banton is not the answer” (07.10.18). I must say I am very perturbed by the views expressed by the writer, contending that gay rights advocacy is part of a “wider cultural imperialism” and referring to it as a negative cultural import. For Caribbean people the issue of homosexuality is taboo and many would wish this issue to remain in the closet. Gay rights are not an import and are not isolated to Western societies but are universal because developed and developing countries, including the Caribbean region, have a homosexual sub-population with limited or no legal recognition and protection. Hence, it is necessary to advocate for protection of the human rights of homosexuals.

In order for the rights of person to be protected one has to advocate and protest against laws, systems, institutions and persons that aid and ferment the infringement, violation and discrimination of one’s human rights.

That is what Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr, Mahatma Gandhi and countless others did. To contend otherwise is tantamount to condoning and supporting slavery, apartheid and other repressive systems. There-fore, to not advocate for change through legislative and policy reform on the issue of gay rights is to make homosexuals vulnerable to numerous forms of discrimintion.

This is where Buju Banton comes in because his song ‘Boom Bye Bye’ has served to up the ante against the gay rights movement and proliferate the homophobic culture in the Caribbean, which some may argue to be the real cultural import since it was under colonialism that ‘sodomy’ laws were enacted by the then British Empire. Banton’s lyrics in this song explicitly state “Send fi di matic (automatic rifle) an di Uzi ( a submachine gun) instead shoot dem no come if we shot dem-(followed by sounds of gun shots).”

The writer mentioned that Banton has a “right to his beliefs and to take a personal and artistic stance on an issue” but if it calls for murder and violence it is wholly unacceptable, unjustifiable and criminal.

Banton has never expressed contrition for this ‘artistic expression’ and that is why the group SASOD has the right to express concern about his upcoming performance in Guyana. It is not part of the culture of Caribbean people including Guyanese to arbitrarily call for the murder of persons even it they are homosexuals. However, we have seen an increase in homophobic violence in the region, especially in Jamaica, which is reinforced by Banton’s ‘Boom Bye Bye.’

Banton’s song can be viewed as preaching genocide given that a similar approach was adopted in Rwanda when Hutus killed Tutsis. The genocide in Rwanda was ignited with a campaign on the airwaves via radio broadcast calling for the lynching of Tutsis ‘cockroaches’ or ‘vermin’. Banton’s call for the murder of ‘batty boys,’ pejorative sexual slurs to describe gay men, is no different.

His song is a call to arms for since its release we have seen numerous dancehall singers, such as Beenie Man, Elephant Man, Sizzla and Capleton, among others, follow his lead with what is now considered to be Murder Music which calls for the maiming, lynching and cold-blooded murder of homosexuals. This is the new Caribbean homophobic culture that has risen with Banton’s song. This new homophobic culture is home-grown and now international in nature and requires an international response especially since the issue of homosexuality is taboo in the Guyana and the Caribbean.

The writer contends he is a supporter of gay rights and abhors violence which I find contradictory since (s)he doesn’t support SASOD’s position calling for a public apology from Banton denouncing “Boom Bye Bye” before any performance in Guyana.

Being a ‘fan’ of Banton the writer should use his writing skills to persuade Banton to denounce his song and to apologise to the gay community in the Caribbean and the diaspora for the severe damage his song has done to societies.

(name and address


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