Brighton city councillor calls for nightclub to cancel performance by anti-gay singer

A gay Brighton councillor is calling for a concert venue in the city to cancel a performance by controversial ‘dancehall’ singer Buju Banton who has written and performed songs urging the shooting and killing of gay people.

The Concorde 2 club on Brighton’s Madeira Drive has announced a performance by the Jamaican dancehall artist on 5 July 2006. Banton has written homophobic songs from the early 1990s onwards and has refused to apologise or retract the lyrics. In 2004 Manchester City Council and local police cancelled a concert where he was to perform on grounds of public order and community relations.

Brighton Green city councillor Simon Williams, who has campaigned against homophobic and anti-women lyrics in popular music, said: “I’m pleased Brighton police are in discussions with the venue about stopping this performance. Buju has regularly performed openly murderous anti-gay songs including one of his biggest hits ‘Boom Bye Bye inna batty bwoy head’ which advocates shooting gay people in the head.

“A performance by him in such a gay friendly city as Brighton and Hove would be inappropriate and damage community relations. This is not about censoring genuine creativity, but no artist with any humanity would want to sing these words. His words incite the shooting and murder of people because of their sexuality and he continues to sing them.

“He will not retract them or express any personal apology. His lyrics create an environment where homophobia and hatred is given cultural approval and if he had sung these songs and referred to black people in place of gay people he would rightly be arrested for incitement to hatred.”

Mr Williams added: “There’s a popular misconception that he’s apologised for this song which was written in the early 1990s. This is not true. There’s been no apology from Buju – only a reluctant apology issued by the record company which he has since disavowed while he continues to promote and perform this song.”

According to Outrage! Buju played ‘Boom Bye Bye’ at a concert in Jamaica as recently as last year and refused to apologise for the lyrics in a recent BBC1Extra interview in April this year.

BBC radio station, 1Xtra, was criticised last April after interviewing Banton.

The song Boom Bye Bye, which featured in the broadcast, says, “The world is in trouble, anytime Buju Banton come batty boy get up and run, ah gunshot in ah head man Tell dem crew… it’s like Boom bye bye, in a batty boy head, rude boy nah promote no nasty man, them hafi dead.

Five people complained about the BBC station using the anti gay star, real name Mark Myrie after gay group Outrage issued a statement condemning the show.

A BBC1Xtra spokeswoman said an excerpt from the song was used to give context to the controversy in Banton’s career, the presenter said on the show “Boom bye bye was massive in reggae circles and there was a massive disruption…In 1991 Buju recorded ‘Boom bye bye’, the track caused outrage,” and then the excerpt was played.

The spokeswoman defended the decision to feature the artist in the programme, she told PinkNews.co.uk: “Dancehall reggae is an important genre for 1Xtra’s listeners and the station broadcasts a Dancehall special every year. The idea is to celebrate the genre and reflect the breadth of dancehall culture back to our listeners.

“This year 1Xtra’s ‘ Dancehall after dark’ week comprised a variety of shows such as documentary on Haile Selassie and a live concert with Damian Marley. Also part of this was a conversation with Buju Banton, a key artist from the genre whose story interests 1Xtra’s listeners.