Buju Banton

The organisation behind the Grammy Awards has defended its nomination of anti-gay reggae singer Buju Banton for an award.

Banton, who has called for the murder of gay men in his song lyrics, has been nominated this year for his album Rasta Got Soul.

The Recording Academy issued a statement on the controversy on Wednesday saying that the Grammy Awards had a history of supporting freedom of speech.

“Artists of a variety of political or cultural perspectives have been nominated or featured on the telecast, despite protests and backlash,” it said.

“The Academy acknowledges that there are very strong and diverse opinions on many issues and in many instances, we have helped initiate dialogue on matters that require education and further discussion. It takes tolerance to teach tolerance, and it is through dialogue and debate that social discovery may occur. The GRAMMY Awards is a celebration and recognition of outstanding musical achievement by music makers, regardless of politics, and that will continue to be our mission.”

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) said that it was not satisfied with the response.

“While we appreciate the Recording Academy issuing a response, we firmly disagree with their justification for nominating Buju Banton for a Grammy Award,” said Jarrett Barrios, President of GLAAD.

“Advocating the murder of gay people is not a ‘political or cultural perspective.’ We urge Recording Academy members NOT to support Buju Banton’s nomination. Ignoring his continued promotion of brutality against gay people sends a message that violence against our community is OK.”

GLAAD urged people to protest Buju Baton’s Grammy Nomination and to “tell Recording Academy members to not support his nomination.”

Banton, who was acquitted of assaulting a group of gay men in Kingston in 2006, has become known for his anti-gay song lyrics which advocate torture and violence against gay men. In August this year, a number of concerts set to be performed by Banton in the US were cancelled following pressure from gay rights groups.

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