Editorial

The sacking of Dr Brendon Bain: The dilemma of our times

Thursday, May 22, 2014    

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THE latest example of how we self-destruct as a nation comes in this week's firing of Professor Brendan Bain as director of the Regional Co-ordinating Unit of the Caribbean HIV/AIDS Regional Training (CHART) Network, by the University of the West Indies (UWI). Dr Bain lost his job following news reports that a coalition of 33 lobby groups from across the Caribbean had called for his head because of expert testimony he gave in a constitutional challenge brought by a gay Belizean man against that country's criminal code in September 2010.

Dr Bain, regarded as a pioneer in clinical infectious disease practice in the Caribbean and a leading medical authority on the HIV epidemic in the region, has developed a formidable reputation for caring and devoted service to the HIV/AIDs community but that could not save him because he has an opinion against homosexuality.

And that's the bane of our existence, if readers will forgive the unintended pun.

Just before that it was the turn of Energy Minister Phillip Paulwell, who was hounded out of the 381-megawatt power plant project, to suit certain interest groups, without any solid explanation as to what is being done now to get the project back on track. We're good, really good at dismantling but not so at building.

In capitulating to the pro-gay interest groups, the University of the West Indies — we have no doubt — would have considered the various agendas of its donors, many of whom have serious financial clout and are very favourable to the gay community. But the decision has left the university on the horns of a dilemma.

Must all its officers now subscribe wholly to the lifestyle of the various communities they serve? Was it in Dr Bain's job description, as well as that of the other academics at the UWI, that he must hold no public opinion against homosexuality? How far must the university go in censoring and muzzling its academics to suit interest groups? Is this the end of scientific freedom and freedom of expression in the academic community?

Of course, the decision would also have confirmed what many people have long held that homosexuals have strong influence in the running of the university and have firmly ensconced themselves in the human rights lobby.

We have been consistently circumspect in this editorial space where the gay lifestyle is concerned, promoting tolerance about people's right to their lifestyle if it does no harm to other citizens. But we admit to growing unease that the gay community is not as tolerant as they want others to be of them.

If action speaks louder than words, Dr Bain's hard work to better the life of HIV/AIDS sufferers should have outweighed his personal opinion against homosexuality. A surgeon may be publicly against murder but that should not stop him from saving a murderer's life in his professional capacity. And who is to say that all HIV/AIDS sufferers are men who have sex with men (MSMs)? Who is speaking for those who are not gay?

We should be free to admit that not all MSMs are promiscuous, wild and careless about sex. But there are some who are, and this makes Dr Bain's pronouncement about the spread of HIV/AIDS among MSMs something to be taken seriously.

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