The sacking of Prof Brendan Bain illustrates the intimidating power of the gay-rights lobby, as well as external sources of funding on which we have to rely. I am saddened at the treatment, not just to Professor Bain, but to the Caribbean community.
In his affidavit, Professor Bain rendered a professional opinion that the practice of MSM was harmful and that decriminalising it would not necessarily lead to a reduction in the rate of HIV infections. Other professionals may offer contrary views, and the litigants in this particular case are entitled to present affidavits in support of those views.
Professor Bain cannot be expected to render an opinion other than his own. His statement can render him unfit to serve as head of CHART only if its charter or mandate includes the removal of legal impediments to MSM. Its mission statement says no such thing. Its purpose is “to strengthen the capacity of national health-care personnel and systems to provide access to quality HIV & AIDS prevention, care, and treatment and support services for all Caribbean people”. Nothing in Professor Bain’s affidavit can be said to compromise his ability or commitment to fulfil that mandate . . . .
While I was in office, subtle and sometimes not-so-subtle pressure was exerted by some foreign governments and agencies to have the buggery provisions removed from our statutes. I rebuffed these efforts because I felt this involved social, cultural and religious considerations on which Jamaica – and Jamaica alone – would have to deliberate.
I am not opposed to the repeal of the buggery provisions in our laws because I don’t think that legislation can, or should, try to regulate sexual practices, except in certain circumstances such as in the protection of children. The State has no business barging into any bedroom to molest homosexuals any more than it would fornicators or adulterers.
Many Jamaicans, including me, are of the view, however, that once those provisions are repealed, the battle cry will be sounded to secure recognition of same-sex unions and eventually same-sex marriages.
The new libertarian view that has captured the mind of even President Obama is that this is an expression of an individual’s right to choose. It is a dangerous view because it completely severs the moral considerations that inform the norms of a society and the value system within which it operates. The entire society may not be faithful to its value system, but it, nonetheless, recognises its legitimacy and frame of reference. Hence, although adultery and multiple sex partners may be common in Jamaica, no lobby has yet been mounted to legalise polygamy.
This new libertarian view of the right to choose is dangerous because once that moral tether is severed, no taboo can then be justified. What, other than moral considerations, would be the basis for retaining the Incest (Punishment) Act and depriving a man and his adult consenting daughter the right to cohabit? Yet the vast majority of Jamaicans would consider that abhorrent. Why? Because it offends our moral values and cultural tradition . . .In short, there are big issues at stake that need to be brought out into the light and fully frankly faced in light of consequences and the implications of ever-creeping precedents in courts. Not, smuggled in under the false cover of a claim that the laws under attack are blocking access to prevention and health care; backed up by funders pushing hidden agendas (CHART’s charter does not include any requirement that would make Bain’s testimony a genuine conflict of interest or violation of trust).
As a region, we have some big issues and sobering implications to ponder, digest intellectually and morally, then act on.
With huge long term consequences.
We would be well advised to move very slowly indeed, and given the bully-boy behaviour we are seeing from radical activists and the foot-in-the-door demands of funders with hidden agendas, we would be well advised to heed the implications of their behaviour and attitudes in our onward decisions as a region. END