Africa / Asia / Commentary / Faith and religion

Jamaica: Why support fired professor, not homeless LGBTs?

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 Jamaican activist responds here to criticism by Christian leaders over the decision to fire retired Prof. Brendan Bain as director of a Caribbean anti-AIDS training program after he testified against the legalization of same-sex intercourse in Belize, which Bain argued would increase the risk of AIDS.  Most AIDS activists understand that anti-gay laws limit the access of LGBT people to health care and therefore increase HIV infection rates by pushing  the HIV epidemic underground.

The activist (whose name unfortunately cannot be disclosed here) wrote:

I AM BAIN DISGUSTED:
…that Jamaican churches and supposed intellectuals would rather protest the termination of a cushy post-retirement contract for a wealthy university professor, THAN the fact of homeless LGBT youth being forced to live in the sewers of the capital by a callous and uncaring government!

Homeless LGBT youths sleeping in Jamaican sewers. (Photo courtesy of Micheal Forbes)

Homeless LGBT youths sleeping in Jamaican sewers. (Photo courtesy of Micheal Forbes)

Where is the public march to demand just an abandoned government building to house these youngsters? Where is the outrage that a government that claims to “put people first” refuses to lift a finger to help these kids? How come there are no petitions to prevent the spread of HIV as these youth are paid extra for condomless sex with their often married male clients? What will it TAKE for us as a people to get our priorities straight?

There is a reason Jamaica has failed to deliver on its tremendous promise: we the people like seemingly quick fixes. In this case, the contention is that if the [University of the West Indies] re-hires Bain then all will be right on the HIV front and the supreme order of religious fundamentalists domination will be restored.

Logo of Dwayne's House, a group raising money for a shelter for LGBT youths in New Kingston, Jamaica.

Logo of Dwayne’s House, a group raising money for a shelter for LGBT youths in New Kingston, Jamaica. (Click on the image for a link to the site.)

Such fallacious thinking partly explains why Jamaica has the highest HIV prevalence rate among men who have sex with men in the western hemisphere, and a significant bridging of the epidemic between the straight and gay populations!

We trust an antiquated anti-sodomy law and moral disapproval to discourage “risky” behavior. What we fail to realize is that the truly risky behavior is stigma and discrimination which drives vulnerable persons quite literally underground, away from any form of effective anti-HIV interventions.

Bring back Bain, some demand. I say, do that and watch our HIV epidemic spiral out of our ability to afford it. The ensuing fire may well consume us all.

See the Web page of Dwayne’s House for more information or to contribute to help LGBT youth in Jamaica (for contributors from the United States or Canada).

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5 thoughts on “Jamaica: Why support fired professor, not homeless LGBTs?

  1. Pingback: In Jamaica, summertime is gay-bashing time | 76 CRIMES

  2. Pingback: LGBT rights: As Canada cheers, Jamaica jeers | 76 CRIMES

  3. Pingback: Will Christian leaders replace anti-AIDS funding they blocked? | 76 CRIMES

  4. Pingback: Jamaican court to hear Bain case on HIV, anti-gay laws | 76 CRIMES

  5. Pingback: Anti-AIDS leader loses job for supporting anti-gay laws | 76 CRIMES

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