In spite of his virulently anti-gay lyrics, and being imprisoned on drug charges in the US, Jamaican recording artist Buju Banton was awarded the Grammy award for best reggae album on Sunday.
LGBT rights organisations, including the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) and The LA Gay and Lesbian Center, had unsuccessfully lobbied the Recording Academy to reverse Banton’s nomination. It refused, saying that “the Grammy Awards had a history of supporting freedom of speech”.
Banton has previously been the subject of numerous protests by LGBT-advocacy organisations for his homophobic lyrics, some of which directly incite violence against gay people.
Despite reports that Banton had agreed to curtail the use of homophobic rhetoric, he continued to perform his song Boom Bye Bye at concerts. In that song Banton asserts that “batty bwoy” and “batty man” (the Jamaican equivalent of “faggot”) need to die, and he will “shoot them in the head” and “burn them”.
Commenting on Banton’s Grammy win, GLAAD said that it “stands behind its assertion that the Recording Academy should speak out against hateful lyrics like Banton’s” and hopes “that in the future they will make better choices about who to recognise with nominations and trophies”.
The organisation noted that Banton won’t be celebrating anytime soon. He is currently imprisoned in Miami on federal drug trafficking charges, and will stand trial this week. Banton could face life in prison if convicted.