Americas / Faith and religion

AIDS program ousts leader who embraces anti-gay laws

Dr. Brendan Bain, professor of community health at the Mona Campus of the University of the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica, (Photo courtesy of EverydayLeadership.org)

Brendan Bain (Photo courtesy of EverydayLeadership.org)

A prominent Jamaican AIDS fighter lost his job this week because he did not recognize that anti-gay laws limit the access of LGBT people to health care and increase HIV infection rates by pushing  the HIV epidemic underground.

Homosexuality opponent Prof. Brendan Bain of Jamaica was ousted as director of a Caribbean anti-AIDS training program after testifying against the legalization of same-sex intercourse in Belize, which he argued would increase the risk of AIDS.

The University of West Indies, which runs the of the Caribbean HIV/AIDS Regional Training (CHART) Network, announced May 20 that it was firing Bain as the program’s director.

The university issued a statement that Bain had “lost the confidence and support of a significant sector of the community which the CHART programme is expected to reach, … thereby undermining the ability of this programme to effectively deliver on its mandate.”

Caleb Orozco of United Belize Advocacy Movement (Photo courtesy of CTagOnline)

Caleb Orozco of Unibam is challenging the constitutionality of the Belize law against homosexual activity.(Photo courtesy of CTagOnline)

Bain submitted written testimony (accessible here in PDF form) opposing a constitutional challenge to the 1861 law that makes male-male sex a crime in Belize.  That challenge, which is still pending before the Supreme Court in Belize, came from Caleb Orozco, leader of the United Belize Advocacy Movement (Unibam), which seeks recognition of LGBT rights.

In its announcement that it was terminating Bain’s contract, the university said:

“The majority of HIV and public health experts believe that criminalising men having sex with men and discriminating against them violates their human rights, puts them at even higher risk, reduces their access to services, forces the HIV epidemic underground thereby increasing the HIV risk.

“These are the positions advocated by the UN, UNAIDS, WHO, PAHO, the international human rights communities and PANCAP (The Pan Caribbean Partnership against AIDS)  which is the organisation leading the regional response to the HIV epidemic.”

Free speech advocate opposes the firing of Prof. Brendan Bain as head of the Caribbean anti-AIDS training program. (Photo courtesy of The Gleaner)

Free speech advocate opposes the firing of Prof. Brendan Bain as head of the Caribbean anti-AIDS training program. (Photo courtesy of The Gleaner)

Both the university and 35 advocacy groups that complained about Bain’s testimony acknowledged that Bain is entitled to hold and to express his opinion, but said that his position damaged his ability to lead the anti-AIDS program.

A handful of Bain supporters disagreed during a protest at the university’s campus in Jamaica on May 21.  They said that Bain’s firing jeopardized the university’s role as a place “where all views contend” and was evidence that Christian principles are under siege in Jamaica and worldwide.

 

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10 thoughts on “AIDS program ousts leader who embraces anti-gay laws

  1. This is a misleading piece, very misleading and irresponsible of author to write such a piece. It is obvious that the anti-gay fight will go nowhere if its supporters print such misleading article. There is evidence nowhere of Professor Bain adopting an anti-gay stance. As an expert in his field he has done a lot to make homosexuals aware of their scientifically supported increased risk of acquiring HIV/AIDS. Nowhere did he put forward any anti-gay sentiments. It is a known fact that unprotected anal sex increases one’s risk of contracting the disease and I need not explain why here – that is not the issue. The issue is how irresponsible the gay-rights groups are in censoring freedom of speech for their freedom of choice. Gay men need to be made aware of the risks to be better able to protect themselves much like the users of intravenuous drugs need to be in order to protect themselves, it is as simple as that!

    Professor Bain works with homosexuals daily in his HIV/AIDS work and would be irresponsible to adopt an anti-gay stance, he just presented the facts as the scientific proof shows. Stop writing half-truths and stop conveniently leaving off the important bits to to support your cause, anything founded on lies will not prosper. It is irresponsibilty the likes of your article that make the fight for equality on the part of gays a hard one, it just pisses the rest of the world off when homosexuals use such dirty under-handed tactics to put forward a cause. Tr yMartin Luther King Jr’s approach of peaceful protests and then you will see how much straight people will stand in solidarity with your rights, but trust me articles as irresponsible and misleading as this only makes people like me hate the gay rights movement even more knowing how much the professor has helped to empower marginalised individuals and this is how they repay him? I will never offer any support whatsoever anymore to any gay rights movement anywhere, I build websites and offer Graphic Design services to many gay rights groups and causes and from now on that will end, I hate what it has become as a result of the input of people like you and I hope from now on the fight gets impossibly harder.

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    • Dear “In Taller Ants” —

      Thanks for your comment, although I disagree with it. You say, “There is evidence nowhere of Professor Bain adopting an anti-gay stance.” His testimony in favor of keeping the Belize sodomy law, which covers even protected, consensual sex between HIV-negative men, is that evidence.

      You say it’s a matter of freedom of speech, as if freedom of speech means freedom from experiencing the consequences of one’s speech, no matter how much that speech offends the people one is paid to work with. Professor Bain testified in favor of keeping a law that calls for 10 years in prison for people whose trust and respect he needed in order to keep doing his job. Losing his job was the consequence of the speech that he was free to make.

      — Colin Stewart, editor of this blog

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  2. You can probably add the term ‘plagiarist’, or at least know where Bain’s inspiration has come from.

    The ‘facts’ that Bain has presented as his own word’s instantly sounded eerily familiar, and for good reason. Sections have been lifted from a scurrilous 2002 publication by a “Dr. John R. Diggs”, an anti-gay medical doctor in the United States with links to all the usual suspects, and in the same manner cobbled together with some cherry-picked legitimate reports.

    You may find it here, for example. (Be warned, the host site is very anti-gay). Look for the section commencing “As a physician…” and compare it to the same section in Bain’s testimony.

    http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/homosexuality/ho0075.html

    After reading through that, if you can, Alvin McEwan at Holy Bullies has put together an excellent summary of the distortions by Diggs. Anyone care to give Bain’s testimony the same level of scrutiny?

    http://www.freewebs.com/palmettoumoja/John%20R.%20Diggs%27s%20lies.pdf

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