(Jamaica Observer) – In face of fierce opposition to his current US tour from the gay community, Buju Banton, no stranger to controversy, no doubt is reaching for the ‘Inna Heights’ of his ‘Unchained Spirit’ (in the vein of two of his finest albums), determined not to be outdone by his detractors.

According to information reaching the Observer, the Richmond, Virginia leg of Buju Banton’s Rasta Got Soul tour, which was scheduled to take place at The National on Saturday, September 26, has been relocated to The Hat Factory (in the same city) due to threats by strong arms thugs from the gay community.

This is due largely because the Gargamel and the promoters refused to buckle under the pressure of the gay lynch mobs and has secured a venue for the upcoming event. But the struggle is far from over.

“It seems as if the gays are definitely out to get Buju this year, all his shows at the House of Blues and all venues which are under the Live Nation/AEG Live, are cancelled,” a well informed source close to the tour told Splash.

“Another show, this one in Virginia has also been cancelled but (incidentally) the promoter, whose pet name is Buju and whose company is called Lionheart Promotions, is determined not to be outdone by the gay community, so he found another venue,” the source added.

The gay community in Richmond has been loud in its outcry against Buju Banton performing in their town to the point where, it is understood, they sent an email to city councilwoman Ellen Robertson threatening violence as well as revenue loss for The National.

It is also understood that an October 3 show featuring the Gargamel at the Lifestyle Communities Pavilion, in Columbus, Ohio has been cancelled after protests by advocates for Columbus’ gay community.

At the centre of the imbroglio is Buju Banton’s 1988 hit, “Boom Bye Bye”. Taking issue with the content, it is understood that several groups including Stonewall Democrats of Ohio and Equality Ohio, circulated e-mail urging people to voice their disapproval by shutting down the show.

These developments follow cancellations in August of seven shows for the ace deejay by promoters AEG Live/Goldenvoice and Live Nation. These concerts were scrapped following a spate of e-mails, phone calls and Facebook notes objecting to the tour.

In an attempt of damage control, at the start of this month, a release from the controversial artiste’s company, Gargamel Music gave the assurance that the tour was on regardless of the resistance of the gay community.

With the heading, ‘The voice of Jamaica will not be silenced’, the release stated in parts: “We are disappointed by the hasty cancellation of a few shows by Live Nation/House of Blues and Goldenvoice/AEG, but fans will be happy to know we have over 30 confirmed shows that are definitely playing and we are working to replace the cancelled dates.

“Now our team is primarily concerned with setting the record straight on the grossly inaccurate portrait of Buju being painted by certain organisations and systematically relayed to the masses and the media.

“Buju Banton was all of 15 years old when he wrote ‘Boom Bye Bye’ in response to a widely publicised man/boy rape case in Jamaica. It was not a call to violence. The song was released on a popular dancehall rhythm in 1992 and caused a huge uproar after receiving commercial radio play in the States. Following much public debate back then, prominent gay rights leaders and Buju decidedly moved on. For the record, it is the only song he ever made on the subject – and he does not perform it today.”

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