Gay groups urge Grammys to denounce Buju Banton

Fri Jan 29, 2010 12:08am EST
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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Gay rights groups angry about a Grammy nomination for jailed Jamaican reggae singer Buju Banton took out a full page advert on Friday, protesting the honoring of an artist they said had "promoted the murder of gay people throughout his career."

Banton, 36, is up for a best reggae album award for his "Rasta Got Soul" release at the Grammys on Sunday. He is currently in jail in Florida awaiting trial on a cocaine charge and will not be attending the awards show.

In an advert in Hollywood show business paper Daily Variety, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center urged Grammy organizers to use Sunday's televised ceremony to denounce music "that promotes or celebrates violence against any group of people."

The lyrics of Banton's most controversial song "Boom, Bye Bye" in 1988, promote the murder of gay men by shooting or burning.

Several of Banton's U.S. concerts were canceled by promoters last year after an outcry over his lyrics.

Banton was quoted late last year as saying he saw "no end to the war" between himself and gay men.

The Recording Academy has said that the Grammy Awards honor musical achievement "regardless of politics" and that artists from many different political and cultural perspectives have been nominated over the years.

Gay rights groups protested in 2001 over the Grammy nomination and performance of rapper Eminem, whose lyrics also have homophobic elements. Gay British singer Elton John took to the Grammy stage to sing with Eminem that year in a bid to defuse the anger.

Friday's advert, in the form of a letter signed by more than 20 gay, civil rights and anti-violence groups, said that honoring "an artist such as Buju Banton, honors his extraordinary hateful work."

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant: editing by Dean Goodman)