Gay rights activists are campaigning for Grammy bosses to denounce jailed reggae singer Buju Banton - insisting he has "promoted the murder of gay people throughout his career". The 36 year old is nominated in the category for Best Reggae Album for "Rasta Got Soul" at Sunday's, January 31, ceremony - but will miss the Hollywood event following his drug bust in Florida in December 2009.
But Banton's absence from the biggest night in the music industry hasn't stopped gay rights campaigners from taking aim at the embattled star and his lyrics in controversial songs like 1988's "Boom Bye Bye", which promotes the murder of homosexuals. Members at the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center took out a full page ad in trade paper Daily Variety on Friday, January 29, urging organizers of the televised ceremony to denounce music "that promotes or celebrates violence against any group of people".
In the advert, which appears in the form of a letter signed by more than 20 gay, civil rights and anti-violence groups, they claim that honoring "an artist such as Buju Banton honors his extraordinary hateful work". Banton is not the first artist to have faced protests from gay rights groups at the Grammy Awards. In 2001, rapper Eminem was the activists' prime target.
The reggae singer is currently being held behind bars in Tampa, Florida as he awaits a March 2010 trial to fight a charge of conspiring to buy more than five kilograms of cocaine from an undercover officer in Sarasota in December 2009. He has pleaded not guilty to the allegations.