Tue | Aug 22, 2017

David Abrikian | Jamaican lobby and demise of CHART

Published:Tuesday | May 30, 2017 | 5:00 AMDavid Abrikian

The source of homosexuality, generally, is a controversial issue internationally, abounding with a number of opinions. These opinions include genetic, circumstantial and other causes, together with theories that state that the orientation can, or cannot, be changed.

However, regardless of the above, something needs to be fully clarified. Even if one does not have much sympathy for the activity associated with homosexuality, the homosexuals in Jamaica need to be treated with the regard and consideration that any human being deserves. Abuse, victimisation, oppression, or repression of homosexuals is completely unacceptable.

This applies whether or not one supports the retention of the buggery law; in fact, whether a buggery law exists or not. For just by having a homosexual urge does not mean that a crime has been committed, and homosexuals, being people, deserve a certain level of respect regardless.

But this is not an expose about the buggery law. That may be looked into at another time.

 

THE BRENDAN BAIN ISSUE

 

Rather, to consider again the Brendan Bain issue, it seems likely that Jamaican lobbies may have been in touch with the agency (the Health Resources and Services Administration) that funded CHART (Caribbean HIV/AIDS Regional Training).

And it seems likely that this would have been done in order to convince it of the unacceptability of Professor Bain continuing to head that organisation (which he had been heading successfully for years), given the deposition he gave in the Belize courts in 2012.

CHART, as we know, was the Caribbean organisation whose mission it was to train persons involved in the prevention, care, and treatment of HIV/AIDS patients.

And it is hard to see why the funding agency, which had been very supportive of CHART's operations over time, and had supported its expansion and development under Professor Bain, would have suddenly changed its tune regarding its attitude to his leadership. Unless, of course, there were ripples of dissent coming from the same territory in which its headquarters was located and where Professor Bain worked, namely, Jamaica.

If the above is true, namely, that local lobbies did have dialogue with the funding agency to bring about the end of Professor Bain's leadership, supposedly in a genuine attempt to assist in the treatment of AIDS, we know by now that they have achieved exactly the opposite. CHART is now extinct and there is no replacement programme.

Further, if they were, in fact, in touch and had that level of influence on the funding agency, they are accountable for the current non-existence of the organisation that formerly carried out a successful service for the same group they claim to have been lobbying for.

What may be of some relevance is that the UNAIDS Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic of 2012, the same year as Professor Bain's testimony in Belize, states that the percentage of MSM (men who have sex with men) in Jamaica in 2011, who were reached with HIV-prevention programmes, was 87 per cent. That means that for every 100 Jamaican active homosexual men, about 87 of them were reached with HIV-prevention programmes.

 

GLOBAL AIDS EPIDEMIC

 

Out of 61 countries for which these data were obtained, only four countries ranked higher than this, namely, the Seychelles (100 per cent), Ghana (96 per cent), Cuba (92 per cent), and St Vincent (91 per cent). In fact, Jamaica ranked higher than countries such as The Bahamas (59 per cent), Germany (69 per cent), Sweden (59 per cent), and USA (59 per cent).

While this may not be the only statistic relevant to the issue, given the validity of the above figures, Professor Bain would have had little reason to believe that the buggery law acted as a deterrent for seeking treatment.

Further, as has been mentioned by others, whatever personal views Professor Bain had on the matter, these views in no way affected the zeal and effort he made in carrying out the CHART mission.

In fact, to go back to the opening paragraph of this letter regarding the respect that should be given to homosexuals as persons, Professor Bain may have been one of the champions, if not the ultimate champion, of this attitude.

Jamaica seems to have again shot itself in the foot.

- David Abrikian is a civil engineer. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and dpabrikian@yahoo.com.