The terminated Professor from the University of the West Indies, Brendan Bain, continues to be a controversial topic within Belize and Jamaica, which has caused the university to come under sustained criticism and denunciation.
On Friday, May 23, the Belize Evangelical Association of Churches along with Belize Action’s Pastor Scott Stirm organized a midday demonstration at the Battlefield Park in front of the Supreme Court. They were protesting against Bain’s termination, calling it a silencing of freedom of speech. Following after the protests being held in Jamaica, majority of the 100 or so participants who showed up donned tapes over their mouths with the slogan, “Freedom Under Attack”. The taping of their mouths represented their sentiments that UWI was used by the LGBT community in the Caribbean to silence Professor Bain for his witness evidence which was taken as being “anti-gay”.
As has been widely reported, Professor Bain gave a deposition in the Supreme Court case in Belize in which Caleb Orozco sought to challenge Belize’s Sodomy Laws. In that deposition in 2012, he gave certain statements saying that decriminalizing sodomy hasn’t particularly been proven to reduce the numbers of infections of HIV among the population of men who have sex with men (MSM). He also suggested that there are higher numbers of HIV infections among MSM and that decriminalizing sodomy could negatively impact the country’s economy. Bain also said, “…Important considerations must be included when considering whether to give public approval to risky behaviours such as are often practised by MSM.”
Bain was UWI’s Director of the Caribbean HIV/AIDS Regional Training (CHART) Initiative. He was respected as one of the Caribbean’s foremost experts in clinical infectious disease practice, and a leading medical authority on the HIV epidemic in the region, but following the lobby of 33 lobby groups in the Caribbean, he was terminated from the position at the University.
After Friday’s protest in Belize, an online petition was started up in which over 1,900 signed on demanding that the Vice-Chancellor of UWI apologize for unjustly terminating Bain. Citizens of Jamaica staged a protest on Monday, May 26, in front of the Mona Campus picketing the University.
The Belize Council of Churches has since weighed in on the matter saying, that they would like to “express our disappointment and outrage at the…termination.” They called it, “an act of extreme cowardice carried out at the behest of an ungrateful and unreasonable minority.”
The Evangelical Association, the Belize Council of Churches, the Jamaican Umbrella Group of Churches, the Medical Association of Jamaica, and the Jamaican Bar have all declared their displeasure that Professor Bain was terminated.