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.”
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.”
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.
- UWI boots professor over gay sex statement (stabroeknews.com)
- UWI boots Bain – Medical group disappointed with professor’s termination (jamaica-gleaner.com)
- ‘Spineless’ UWI – Protestors say leaders muting free speech under external pressure (jamaica-gleaner.com)
- UWI professor in hot water over anti-gay sex testimony (stabroeknews.com)
- Bain supporters: UWI ‘spineless, sold out for 30 pieces of silver’ (jamaica-gleaner.com)
- UWI Fires Professor Brendan Bain for Testifying Men Sleeping With Men is a Public Health Danger (hinterlandgazette.com)
- An LGBT victory in Belize (76crimes.com)
- Jamaica: Gay men need HIV truth, not anti-gay distortions (76crimes.com)
- Death threats, symbols of death haunt Belize LGBTs (76crimes.com)
- Caribbean overview: LGBT rights vs. anti-gay status quo (76crimes.com)