So the Professor Bain conflict of interest HIV CHART matter continues to cause debate and voices from all angles have been sharing their opinions including ones who we do not regularly hear on about homosexuality as it were or the stifling of freedom of speech perception that has been deceptively manipulated by the anti gay groups and voices involved in recent days, protests and church meetings are still being planned and hosted to further push their fear-mongering agenda that somehow some hidden hand are out to get the church and foist homosexuality on the nation. Newsflash homosexuality has always been here.
We have been slowly loosing public tolerant support (private opinions may differ from that support as evidenced as of late) as more persons seem to have been turning or changing their minds in as far as tolerance or was it a show all along? News coming to hand as well that the Child Development Agency, CDA alongside the Ministry of Youth & Culture raising concerns that a Jamaicans for Justice, JFJ sexuality program (Dr Carolyn Gomes is past ED and a current board member) funded by foreign grant makers in places of safety and children’s homes was not approved by both as is required has only sought to strengthen the perception of deceptively by groups with some hidden agenda and hints of conflict of interest as well in some sense.
Reverend Devon Dick who has written on the subject of homosexuality before has been making a turn towards some understanding to even surprisingly include intersexuality issues as evidenced in the last appearance I saw him in person as he made a presentation at the Dr Ena Thomas Symposium Sexual Awareness November last year at the Pegasus Hotel, he among other things spoke on Sexual Healing and his opening remarks sought to be as inclusive as possible: “Good Afternoon ladies and gentlemen and persons of intersex gender” with some laughter coming from the audience and a short applause although a crack it shows some learning is happening but intersex does not suggest the umbrella description is another gender per say.
Now comes this piece in the Gleaner today with the Reverend calling for the present Executive Director of the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition who has been given the task of carrying on the agitation of challenging the conflict of interest of Bain imperative in that Belizean testimony/affidavit, this of course was started under Ian McKnight as ED but Miss Gomes is “damaged goods” in my view has a public persona problem as her image as an anti-police, anti government, upscale professional woman (of light complexion) with some flawed agenda that has followed her from her stint at Jamaicans for Justice is not helping this at all. She has tried to present the issues as they are but the public rebuff is clear and there seems to be an adage of pushing some “homosexual agenda” so much so that anti gay voice Betty Ann Blaine has asked what is the role of the CVCC bearing in mind the entity has been around for some ten years plus. Whether it has its own conflict of interest is another matter in and of itself as persons who sit on its board also cross sit on JFLAG, JASL and other agencies which makes one conclude that very delay and dithering on certain frontline work needed to meet urgent crisis cannot and have not happened.
Rev Devon Dick wrote:
On April 4, 2014, Carolyn Gomes, of Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition, wrote a threatening letter to E. Nigel Harris, vice-chancellor of UWI, calling for the removal of Brendan Bain as leader of CHART.
Gomes stated: "Professor Bain no longer holds the confidence of civil society in the integrity of his word and work means that we do not believe he can or should remain in a leadership position in the UWI programmes of response to HIV."
This is an exaggeration to claim that Bain no longer holds the confidence of civil society. She does not speak for civil society but for some groups in civil society. The membership of 33 groups would not be a significant membership when compared to the membership of the Church, and the Church is a part of civil society. Her comment about civil society could be regarded as misleading.
Gomes' letter continues, "We wrote asking that you demonstrate unequivocal commitment to promoting human rights for populations made vulnerable to HIV through structural factors by: removing Professor Bain from any leadership position in the CHART programme and all positions of representation of the University of the West Indies (UWI) on issues of HIV and AIDS". Where is the data to support this premise for his dismissal? In addition, there was a news report where she stated that the protest against Bain's dismissal would be futile.
Gomes appeared crude in threatening Harris: "Your lack of leadership in the exercise of your discretion regarding who heads and implements the CHART programme, and who represents UWI in decision-making spaces, leaves us with few options but to make our concerns known to the widest possible audience, including regional and international supporters, funders and leaders". Apparently, financial pressure was applied to Harris.
Gomes' action has setback tolerance toward men having consensual adult sex with other men. There is a backlash in Jamaica against the homosexual agenda.
Nowhere in Bain's expert witness statement did he state that he was for or against the retention of criminalisation of men who have consensual sex with men.
Professor Bain has resigned from the PACC of PANCAP. Why was that not enough? Why hound him out of a job? Why not wait until his contract ends next year and not renew it? What harm can Bain do by training health workers and caring for persons with HIV?
Good work undone
Gomes' behaviour is similar to that of Butch Stewart and his treatment of three former senior employees. Stewart took them to court and the senior magistrate upheld a no-case submission. Stewart has undone the good work of the past by the treatment meted out to these former employees. Even if letters were backdated, it does not necessarily mean a criminal offence. Why treat loyal, competent persons like that? Similarly, why treat Bain, a loyal and competent worker like that? How kind will history be to Gomes and Stewart because of the way they have treated employees?
There is an allegation that French economist Thomas Piketty appears to have got his data wrong in his best-selling book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, which argues that inequality is rising and calls for a global wealth tax. Scholars will differ. Unless Bain had deliberately falsified data in his expert witness testimony then he should not be dismissed. Based on Gomes' letter it appears that a grave injustice has been done to Bain and she should resign.
Rev Devon Dick is pastor of the Boulevard Baptist Church in St Andrew. He is author of 'The Cross and the Machete', and 'Rebellion to Riot'. Send feedback to columns@ gleanerjm.com.