Last edited: August 04, 2004

Jamaican Police Hunt Famed Reggae Singer in Gay Beatings, July 19, 2004

By Newscenter Staff

Kingston, Jamaica—Buju Banton, one of Jamaica’s most famous singers, is accused of taking part in a brutal attack on a group of gay men in Kingston.

Police allege that Banton was one of about a dozen armed men who forced their way into a house and beat up the occupants while shouting homophobic insults. Several people were taken to the hospital following the attack. None of the injuries is described as life threatening.

Banton, whose song Boom Boom Bye Bye threatens gay men with a “gunshot in ah head”, was identified by several witnesses. Police say at this time he is wanted only for questioning.

Human Rights Watch says it is concerned that Banton may never face charges.

“There is a pattern of police indifference to attacks on gay men in Jamaica that goes far beyond what Buju Banton is alleged to have done in this case,” said Rebecca Schleiser of HRW.

“Neither his fame nor the stigma attached to the victims should stand in the way of a full, fair and complete police investigation.”

British gay rights group Outrage has campaigned against Banton and other reggae singers whose music advocates violence against gays.

“This substantiates our claims of the links between murder music and actual physical violence against gays and lesbians,” said Outrage spokesperson Peter Tatchell in a statement.

“Critics of the campaign [to stop murder music] have said that the homophobic content of his lyrics is ‘ironic’ or just ‘fantasy’. “Now the star is wanted for a very real violent incident.”

Last month, a concert in London by Beenie Man, another Jamaican singer who calls for beating and killing gays, was cancelled.

One of Beenie Man’s songs contains the lyrics: “I’m a dreaming of a new Jamaica, come to execute all the gays.”

The cancellation of the concert came less than two weeks after the brutal slaying of Brian Williamson, Jamaica’s most prominent gay activist.

His body was discovered in his Kingston apartment by a roommate returning home from work. Williamson was lying facedown in a pool of blood. He had been stabbed numerous times in the neck.

Gay sex is illegal in Jamaica, punishable by jail, with the possibility of hard labor.

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