Controversial reggae singer Buju Banton has spoken out against his gay protesters with two simple words: “F**k them.”
The backlash came in an interview with American music site Billboard.com, who asked the singer about his cancelled concerts around the world due to protests.
“I have never bashed any gays before, and if I bashed gays, I bashed them 16 years ago,” said Banton. “There’s no tolerance from [the gay community]. I’m not a gay-basher. I’m not a homophobe.”
The comments came after two more concerts, aiming to promote Buju Bantons new album, were cancelled in Los Angeles and San Francisco due to pressure from the gay community.
“This is the guy who we’re supposed to engage in dialogue. This is the guy who says he’s changed. This is the guy who claims that he doesn’t hate gays, he just doesn’t “tolerate” them” wrote Keith Boykin, author and editor of Keithboykin.com, a popular US website aimed at the black gay community.
Despite continuing protests, Banton is unrepentant, insisting that gay rights groups won’t let him get on with his life. The media, he says, is making too much of a ‘handful’ of protesters’ actions.
The cancellation of gigs in the US follows numerous campaigns to stop Banton performing in the UK and Europe earlier this year. In July, the Concorde 2 venue in Brighton was forced to cancel a performance by Banton after unprecedented pressure from gay campaign groups in the city.
“He’s clearly not reformed and continues to promote homophobia,” Arthur Law from LGBT forum group Spectrum. “It’s obvious that we made the right choice to make it clear Buju Banton isn’t welcome in Brighton.”
To add insult to injury, Banton’s remarks come as a video of him performing ‘Boom Bye Bye’ – a song that advocates the murder of gay men – was leaked onto the YouTube.com website. The videophone movie shows Banton performing the song at a Miami concert in May, despite claims from his management that he hasn’t performed the song for many years.
“When I met Banton’s promoters in Brighton in June, they assured me that he had changed his ways and no longer performed that song,” Arthur Law told PinkNews.co.uk. “It’s clear now that we were being lied to.”
Traci MacGregor, a spokeswoman for Banton said the singer is being unfairly criticised, adding that the 45 seconds of footage on youtube.com does not show the commentary afterwards in which the artist talks about his life as protest target.
“Juicy stuff … but alas, context is everything,” she said. “Buju has not actually performed ‘Boom Bye Bye’ in years. He has, however, railed off the first couple of lines of the song as a springboard to discuss with fans the ongoing troubles he’s been faced with. It’s a pity the camera didn’t catch all that in Miami”