According to a report from The Observer, a coalition of gay advocacy and civil rights groups is pressuring the University of the West Indies (UWI) to fire Professor Brendan Bain as head of the Caribbean HIV/AIDS Regional Training (CHART) Initiative, claiming that his expert testimony in a case in Belize represents a conflict of interest and has destroyed their trust in him.
The 33 lobby groups, from a number of Caribbean islands, are also demanding that Professor Bain be removed from all positions of representation of the UWI on HIV and AIDS issues. They are, as well, insisting that the university drafts and implements a “policy which protects lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex staff and students from discrimination”.
In August 2012, Professor Bain stated that data from several parts of the world indicated that the relative risk of acquiring and spreading other sexually transmitted infections and cancers is unacceptably high among men who have sex with men (MSMs) when compared with other men and women.
“As a physician and public health practitioner, one of my responsibilities is to assess behaviours for their impact on health and well-being,” Bain said in his written testimony.
“When something is beneficial, such as exercise, good nutrition, or adequate sleep, it is my duty to recommend it. Likewise, when something is harmful, such as smoking, overeating, alcohol or drug abuse, and unsafe sexual behaviour, it is my duty to discourage it.
Together with promoting individual responsibility, it is clear that environments that enable individuals to make and practice safe and healthy choices must be provided at family, community and governmental levels,” he said.
The professor also stated:
“The risk to MSM and their intimate sexual partners is not just to their physical health. The adverse physical and physiological consequences of STIs (including HIV) in MSM create significant and avoidable financial costs to individuals, households and governments. These important considerations must be included when considering whether to give public approval to risky behaviours such as are often practised by MSM.”
It appears that any move to fire the professor will be opposed by the evangelical movement which, in a May 11 letter to Harris, asked the UWI to “demonstrate its unequivocal commitment to the cherished principles of academic freedom and freedom of expression”.
The church group also asked the university to “consider implementing a policy which protects all employees and students from intimidation”, adding that it can highlight cases of intimidation at Mona that have affected both students and employees because of their views on these issues.
A Facebook page entitled : I Support Professor Brendan Bain has also been created to show support for the professor.
Do the professor’s statements warrant his dismissal? Let us know your views in the comments.
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