Mug Shot of Buju Banton (Public domain, it’s work of United States Marshals Service)
Mark Myrie, aka “Buju Banton,” is an extremely homophobic reggae dancehall artiste from Jamaica. He is one of a number of very homophobic Jamaican reggae dancehall artistes.
He is best known for the song “Boom Bye Bye,” which was written and recorded in 1988, when he was 15. The song was later rerecorded and released in the U.S. in 1992. It was immediately controversial. You can get some idea of the controversy by watching this YouTube video boom bye bye buju banton interview
“Boom Bye Bye” calls for gay men to be shot in the head, shot with an Uzi, have acid splashed on them and then to be burned like an old tire (necklaced).
If you are familiar with reggae, this isn’t reggae. This is another genre of music called dancehall. Dancehall music is a cousin of Hip Hop. Like Hip Hop, dancehall can be strongly homophobic, misogynist, violent and graphically sexual. We call these performers “reggae dancehall” artistes because they all also want to be considered reggae performers. Buju would like to be considered to be on a par with Bob Marley.
Buju is the youngest of 15 children who were raised in a violent and crushingly poor Kingston, Jamaica slum known as Salt Lane. (Buju has 13 older sisters). Buju’s parents were very poor. http://bit.ly/jVv4Dz
Jamaica is an extremely religious country. It is said to have the most churches per square mile of any country in the world. Buju grew up among strict, conservative Christian Bible-believin’ churches.
Jamaica is also an amazingly homophobic country. Sex between consenting adult males in Jamaica is illegal under their “Buggery Law.” There is a penalty for conviction of up to 10 years at hard labour. A 2001 poll in Jamaica showed that 96% of Jamaicans Oppose Legalizing Male-to-Male Homosexuality
Jamaica is also an amazingly violent place. The Jamaican homicide rate usually places it among the top 10 nations listed by homicide rate. In a 2012 UN Report, Jamaica had the third highest homicide rate in the world, behind El Salvador and Honduras. See Criminal Violence in The Caribbean
Buju became a Rastafarian, but it turns out that the Rastafarians are strongly homophobic, too. They take the Old Testament of the King James Version of the Bible literally. They do not eat shrimp or pork, as directed by Leviticus and other chapters of the Bible. They take Leviticus 20:13 literally. “Boom Bye Bye” is a statement of Leviticus 20:13.
Pressure from GLAAD and Gay Men of African Descent got “Boom Bye Bye” off the airwaves in 1992. Buju’s television appearances were also canceled. After Buju was dropped from Peter Gabriel’s WOMAD Winter Festival in Brighton, England in December, 1992, Buju issued an apology. He almost immediately retracted that apology. He continued singing “Boom Bye Bye” until 2004. He only stopped singing “Boom Bye Bye” in 2004 under prodding from Amnesty International who wrote to him: “Amnesty International is concerned that, by continuing to perform Boom Bye Bye, Buju Banton continues to advocate the killing of homosexuals . . .” http://bit.ly/bnLWFQ
Though he stopped singing “Boom Bye Bye” publicly in 2004, he developed another anti gay routine. This routine is famous for the line “there is no end to the war between me and faggots.” You can see a version of this anti LGBT routine here: http://bit.ly/infCRs
Mark Myrie (“Buju Banton”) makes homophobic comments from the stage and goes into anti gay rants. He’ll sing a line from “Boom Bye Bye.” Hum it. Or have the audience sing it. This way he can claim that he doesn’t perform “Boom Bye Bye” anymore.
All the evidence shows that he is still as homophobic now as he was in 1988. To his credit, Buju did not perform anti gay material during his 2009 U.S. tour. But in 2007, he signed a Reggae Compassionate Act form, promising not to promote hatred and violence. He almost immediately denied signing the RCA form. You can see his signed form online at http://tinyurl.com/ybwrq3c He has violated the agreement many times since signing. It is not acceptable for Buju Banton or other dancehall performers to comply with their RCA agreements in the U.S., but then violate them in other countries.
Mark Myrie, aka “Buju Banton,” was arrested on December 10th, 2009 at his Miami area home. You can see the charges and some evidence against Mark Myrie here: Buju Banton Affidavit
Buju’s first trial, Before Judge James S. Moody at U.S. District Court in Tampa, Florida, ended in a mistrial on September 27th, 2010.
At the end of his second trial, also held at U.S. District Court in Tampa, Florida, with Judge James S. Moody presiding, Mark Myrie was convicted on charges of conspiracy to possess and distribute cocaine, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking offense, and using the telephone to facilitate a drug crime.
Mark Myrie, who is known as “Buju Banton,” was sentenced on June 23rd, 2011 to ten years and one month in U.S. federal prison. The firearms charge was thrown out at sentencing.
See Reggae star Banton sentenced to 10 years for drug trafficking
Over the years, Buju’s performances in the U.S., Canada and Europe have often been picketed, protested and canceled. A charge of “censorship” is often aimed at the activists who argue with Buju’s “kill gays” stance. LGBT activists need to remember that we also have freedom of speech. We have a right, even an obligation to speak out against this man who calls for our deaths or calls for us to be physically harmed.
Buju also likes to claim that the activists who protest against him are “racist,” ignoring the fact that people of color have been involved in the protests since the beginning. Also, the LGBT people who are violently attacked and killed in Jamaica are mostly people of color.
Buju, of course, is not the only virulently homophobic Jamaican reggae dancehall performer. See “Summer Murder Music Update” at http://bit.ly/q4sYAl
For some further reading about dancehall, “fyah burn,” homophobia in Jamaica
Sexual acts in Jamaica between two consenting adult men are illegal under their “buggery” laws. This is also true of the other English-speaking, former British colonies in the Caribbean, except for the Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands.
The penalty for breaking the “buggery” laws in Jamaica is up to 10 years at hard labour.
Sex between two consenting adult females is not illegal in Jamaica, but many Jamaicans think that it is. Lesbians in Jamaica are subject to assaults and discrimination. They are also subject to “corrective rapes.” Unfortunately, there are also “corrective rapes” in the U.S. and other parts of the world.
Jamaica is a deeply religious country and it is about 80% conservative Christian denominations.
Rastafarians are a minority religion in Jamaica, perhaps 5% of the population. They believe in the Old Testament of the Bible. They do not eat pork or shrimp per Old Testament teachings. The dreadlocks and beards are also from the Old Testament. The Rastafarians believe in the anti gay teachings of Leviticus 20:13.
LGBT people are discriminated against or despised in all the segments of Jamaican culture: Government, law enforcement, education, churches and in medical care.
The U.S., Canada and the U.K. grant asylum to LGBT people from Jamaica. Gay people are even set on fire or burned alive in their homes in Jamaica. People with AIDS have been “necklaced” in Jamaica.
“Dancehall Dossier” http://bit.ly/9fKHdV
Time Magazine “The Most Homophobic Place on Earth?” http://bit.ly/d2Xf20
Amnesty International USA “’Battybwoys affi dead:’ Action against homophobia in Jamaica” http://bit.ly/bSi1gp
Hour.ca “What happened to ‘One Love’?” http://bit.ly/cHUwYv
Human Rights Watch “All Jamaicans Are Threatened by a Culture of Homophobia” http://bit.ly/cmYPES
The Atlantic “How AIDS Became a Caribbean Crisis” http://bit.ly/cOSZTH
UK Independent “Jamaica: A grim place to be gay” http://bit.ly/dhHA8y
“BIGGEST BATTYBWOY KILLING ANTHEMS OF ALL TIME” http://bit.ly/d11aQ4
(The word “batty” means “butt” in Jamaican Patois. “Batty man” is a
derogatory term for a gay man in Jamaica and the Caribbean. We translate
“batty man” or “batty bwoy” as “faggot.”)
Worthwhile YouTube Videos:
“Thomas Glave – Oslo Freedom Forum 2011? http://bit.ly/FRpgha
“Batty Boys Need to Stay Far From We” http://bit.ly/cBRGDb
“HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean: A deadly cycle of stigma and secrecy (part 1 of 5)” http://bit.ly/9gYe6j