Homophobic Lyrics Lead to Concert Cancellations

Public pressure leads promoters to cancel performances by reggae singer

The seven-city U.S. tour of largely irrelevant Jamaican reggae singer Buju Banton, aka Mark Anthony Myrie, has been canceled due to the lyrics in one of his decades-old songs that he no longer plays.

According to the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center, Banton's 1988 song (re-released in 1992) Boom Bye Bye glorifies the torture and murder of gay men and proposes burning them "up bad like an old tire wheel" before shooting them in the head with an Uzi.

The Los Angeles-based group began a campaign on Facebook aimed at blocking Banton from performing due to his insensitivity to the gay and lesbian community.

Several months later, concert promoter Live Nation, the parent company of the House of Blues, announced the cancellation of Banton's concerts, including the Chicago show on Oct. 2. Banton was also to play in Houston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas and Dallas. Live Nation would not comment on the specific reasons for the cancellation, other than to say the shows would not go on as scheduled.

"I hope this victory sends a deafeningly loud message to other promoters and concert venues, that singers who glorify violence against LGBT people, or any group of people, should never be welcomed," said Lorri L. Jean, Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center chief executive officer . "It shouldn't be necessary for us to pressure promoters to do the right thing; people like Banton should never have been booked in the first place."

More than 15 years after the release of Boom Bye Bye, Banton was tried and acquitted on charges that he participated in the 2004 beating of six gay men, the New York Times reports. In 2007, Banton signed the "Reggae Compassion Act," saying he would no longer make homophobic statements, release new homophobic songs or re-release previous recordings that were homophobic.

Though he likely no longer performs the song due to his recognition of the Reggae Compassion Act, apparently the opening line of Boom Bye Bye still holds true: "World is in trouble anytime Buju Banton come."

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