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Gay rights groups condemn Grammy nomination for 'Murder Musician' Buju Banton

(LOS ANGELES) Last week Buju Banton, a performer whose music promotes the violent murder of LGBT people, was nominated for a Grammy in the Best Regge Album category for Rasta Got Soul. Produced by a number of collaborators including Banton, Wyclef Jean, Stephen Marsden and Donovan Germain, the album was recorded over a seven year period and was released on April 21, 2009.

But not everyone is singing Banton’s praises.

"We're shocked that Buju Banton, a singer with a long record of performing a song that glorifies the murder of gay people, would be honored with a Grammy nomination, regardless of the artistic merit of any of his work,” said L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center Chief Public Affairs Officer Jim Key.

Throughout his career, Banton has performed music that promotes a culture of violence against lesbian and gay people; he sings in "Boom, Bye Bye" that "faggots get up and run" when he comes, that "they have to die," and that he will shoot them in the head or "burn them up bad."

The Associated Press has reported that the song “Batty Rider” from Banton’s 1993 record “Mr. Mention” glorifies the shooting of gay men.

“He is completely unrepentant” continues Key, “ [and] refuses to stop performing the song, and recently said, "There is no end to the war between me and faggots."

Banton's music has helped foster such an anti-gay culture in his home country of Jamaica -- where several prominent gay activists and many other LGBT people have been murdered -- that Time magazine recently asked, 'Is Jamaica the most homophobic place on Earth?' Banton himself was charged with a violent anti-gay hate crime.

“It's an affront to LGBT people, and to all fair-minded people around the world, that Buju Banton was even nominated. We certainly hope the members of the Recording Academy will not bestow the prestigious honor of a Grammy on someone whose music promotes murder,” adds Key.

Yesterday, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) launched an on-line petition protesting Banton’s nomination.

“Reggae singer Buju Banton’s anti-gay lyrics and the climate of hatred they create are a threat to the safety of gay and transgender people everywhere,” said Jarrett Barrios, President of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). “In a climate of increased anti-gay violence in this country and Banton’s home country of Jamaica, it is deeply disappointing that the Recording Academy would choose to laud the work of a singer who has advocated violence against the gay community.”

In 2007, GLAAD issued an alert calling on Clear Channel to withdraw its sponsorship of its Power 105.1 station’s Reggae Carifest featuring Banton and Bounty Killer. Following publication of that alert, Clear Channel dropped its sponsorship of the event.

“We call on the media to shine a spotlight on Banton’s history of anti-gay lyrics in coverage of this year’s Grammy Awards as well as the Recording Academy’s decision to honor him without taking steps to ensure his future career is not marked with promoting violence,” said Barrios.