Sun | Jun 25, 2017

Prof poured fuel on anti-gay fire

Published:Wednesday | May 21, 2014 | 5:00 AM
Dane Lewis, Guest Columnist

By Dane Lewis, Guest Columnist

Allow me to commend the University of the West Indies (UWI) and the board of the Caribbean HIV and AIDS Regional Training (CHART) Centre for its principled and decisive action in the matter involving Professor Brendan Bain, who acted as expert witness on behalf of a coalition of churches in the constitutional challenge to Section 53 of the Belize Criminal Code.

Like our colleagues involved in the HIV and AIDS response, J-FLAG lost confidence in Professor Bain's leadership of this regional entity, which was designed to build the capacity of stakeholders in providing services for all people. Professor Bain's involvement was in breach of the university's Statement of Principles/Code of Ethics for Academic and Senior Administrative Staff.

This is the crux of the matter. His affidavit helped to legitimise the anti-gay movement in Belize, Barbados, Trinidad & Tobago, and Jamaica that has been actively misusing epidemiological data to compromise the integrity of the regional HIV response.

Professor Bain, with his wealth of knowledge and experience, is free to disagree with the need to remove punitive laws in the HIV response. However, like others, we are disappointed in the absence of sufficient scientific rigour from the substance of his expert witness testimony.

We are not opposed to his personal views, but we cannot ignore the responsibility that comes with holders of key public positions vis-à-vis their publicly expressed views, especially on matters that impact public policy and law.

Dane Lewis is executive director of J-FLAG, an advocacy group for gays, lesbians and transgender people. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.