Former head of the Caribbean HIV/AIDS Regional Training Initiative (CHART) program at the University of the West Indies, Dr. Brendan Bain, had his contract terminated by the University on May 20 after what it calls months of consultation, in which it became clear to them that Dr. Bain had lost the support of over 32 homosexual advocacy groups who were displeased by his contention in testimony at last year’s Caleb Orozco vs. the Attorney General case that it is behaviour among men who sex with men, not legal discrimination, that has caused high rates of HIV in that sub-population. Orozco’s group UNIBAM led the charge to oust Bain, claiming conflict of interest.
But Bain, as shown by protests here and in Jamaica, does have the support of church organizations and professionals who question why the University chose to terminate a respected individual for expressing his views on record.
We heard from the group of protesters in Belize City on Saturday, starting with political aspirant Jason Patrick Andrews.
“We have a situation that is happening not only in Belize, but throughout the Caribbean. We have a professor that has been terminated from his job because of giving expert scientific data and facts on the situation as it relates to the HIV-AIDS and how men who have sex with men (MSM) are more prone to get infected with HIV. I believe that he is voicing his opinion, he is voicing scientific data and he is being discriminated for that. As I said before, I believe that I hold those same persuasions and beliefs and convictions and the day might come where UNIBAM might want to target me for my views and my ideology, But we live in a free, democratic society, and if we have individuals who cannot go public and say their convictions and their views, it is a dangerous society that we are creating for ourselves. Therefore, I must stand for the concept of freedom of speech as it relates to Professor Bain”.
Senior public servant Kent Claire was also out, putting his Christian faith ahead of service to the Government, at least on this day.
“I stand in affirmation with all my Christian brothers. I have always been this way. I think the majority of Belizeans do, but in effect, it really doesn’t matter if the majority does or not. This is a matter of our faith. When our faith is severely under attack, we feel that it has come to the point where you cannot believe what you want to believe”.
Reporter: “I know you are not here on your capacity as a Commissioner for the Income Tax Department, but are you not afraid that the very same thing that has happened to professor Bain may in return happen to you if you be so vocal?”
Kent Claire: “I will tell you what: it is a part of the deal if you want to be a believer in Christ. I know for a fact that the support that we have, runs from the ordinary person, through the street all the way through ministers of Government who are quite sympathetic to what we believe. But if it so happens, then it is like Ester said in the scriptures, “whatever happens, happens”.
Representing the youth of the Assemblies of God churches was youth leader, Jason Lamb.
“We are basically here to stand for God and for what we believe in. We believe in the Godly principles established in the Bible, the Word of God. We know of this situation where Professor Bain was terminated for his belief, but his expert testimony in a case and that is a direct attack on freedom of speech; that is even going further than asking for rights, human rights or any other kind of rights. That had to do with a court, it is a form of intimidation and it could set a dangerous precedent that anyone could face. If you find that you leave that alone, then you find that anybody who decides to say anything that contradicts on what they claim and what they want to be said or to be heard, then you find that that person could be subject to be attacked, to be victimized”.
As they did previously, protesters taped their mouths shut and displayed messages saying that the freedom of speech is under attack. The protest was sponsored by Belize Action.