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Gary Younge


Wanted for questioning: Buju Banton
Police seek Jamaican singer after armed attack on gay men

Mr Banton was allegedly one of a group of about a dozen armed men who forced their way into a house in Kingston on the morning of June 24 and beat up the occupants while shouting homophobic insults, according to the victims.

At least two people were taken to the hospital. Mr Banton - whose song Boom Boom Bye Bye threatens gay men with a "gunshot in ah head" - was identified by several witnesses and is wanted for questioning.

"There is a pattern of police indifference to attacks on gay men in Jamaica that goes far beyond what Buju Banton is alleged to have done in this case," said Rebecca Schleiser of Human Rights Watch, who has spoken to several of the victims. "Neither his fame nor the stigma attached to the victims should stand in the way of a full, fair and complete police investigation."

Peter Tatchell, of Outrage, said: "This substantiates our claims of the links between murder music and actual physical violence against gays and lesbians. Critics of the campaign [to stop murder music] have said that the homophobic content of his lyrics is 'ironic' or just 'fantasy'.

"Now the star is wanted for a very real violent incident."

Last month, concern that a concert in London by another dancehall favourite, Beenie Man, could incite violence against gays led to its cancellation. One of Beenie Man's songs contains the lyrics: "I'm a dreaming of a new Jamaica, come to execute all the gays."

Concern at the climate of homophobia in Jamaica has intensified in recent months following the murder of the country's most prominent gay activist, Brian Williamson.

Mr Williamson, a co-founder of Jamaican Forum for Lesbians, All-sexuals and Gays (J-Flag), was found with his throat cut and multiple stab wounds to his neck and face.

Jamaican law makes any act of physical intimacy between men punishable by jail, with the possibility of hard labour. A recent poll found 96% of Jamaicans were opposed to moves to legalise homosexual relations. Several gay Jamaicans have successfully claimed asylum in Britain on grounds of homophobia.

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