Tuesday, September 9, 2014

UniBAM LGBT Advocacy in the North vs The South: The Struggle for Harmonization

9th September, 2014

The announcement that Colombia, Uruguay and Chile will introduce a SOGI resolution through the Human Rights Council at the Global level complements efforts like South Africa, Norway and Brazil in the pass and complements the UN resolution on Extrajudicial killings. Talks about engaging the Commonwealth system to advance the decriminalisation process and the success of Africans in their pursuit of getting approved, a resolution on violence and the tremendous success at the OAS since 2008 to advance systems specifically, and LGBT rights in particular, can be summed up in one sentence. Improved policy norming through political engagement  on L.G.B.T rights as human rights is getting better. However, the harmonization at the Global level into regional and national responses have not translated well in clear resource support, accessing regional systems, cultivating activists in the South and building leadership at the grassroots level.

UniBAM had the chance to attend a Global meeting at Wilton Park, in London to refined understanding of policy engagements and learned that there was a discussion to look at L.G.B.T rights advancement as a development issue,  that  strategies defer from country to country, that some global organization believe in decriminalization as  a strategy was a top priority, that international organizations are using platform issues to build coalition and support at the UN Commission on the Status of Women, at the MDG's negotiations, in Small Island Development negotiations, through the International Conference on Population and Development.

These documents and initiatives, however, depends on trick-down policy strategy and  are created and approved in an environment where LGBT advocates may work in weak regional and national responses with little or no resources to give life to these efforts, where rights enforcement and protection mechanism are insufficient, where civil society organizations are not always rushing to the side of the LGBT community to advocate for hate crime and hate speech legislation, where governments are not rushing to lead in approving anti-discrimination protection,  where not every region and country in the world has a a strong LGBT organization, where free media maybe a big problem in some countries in the South and where LGBT advocates are not always rushing to be  visible as fundamentalism rears its ugly head to oppose concerns. 

The next discovery at these meeting is that knowledge mobilisation has value in the hands of  an advocate who has a clear vision to advance social change. When technical persons who can do socio-economic research on the cost of  discrimination mesh with funders, activists on the ground,political leaders with experience in the international community and can share strategies about building support and coalition. It all has a long-term value in institutional strengthening, driving evidence--base advocacy. Knowledge mobilisation is a long-term investment in institution-building that can affect all citizens when done right.

The Word Conference in Toronto is an example of creating a knowledge mobilisation space to share regional and national responses to an audience not familiar with activists work on LGBT issues in the South. Belize, India, Uganda, Bostwana, Kenya showed up at the Envisioning conference along with their Caribbean counterparts who had their own forum discussion at Yverson University. What we have learn in Belize is that only the LGBT community can tell their story that incorporate human dignity with resistance. Of note, Belize had exactly 5 seconds to prepare its presentation on its OAS experience, leveraging its decriminalisation experience as its response to the far right in Belize and the currently evolving CFLAGS brewing in the Caribbean region. We had two other panels at the world conference on Story telling and our decriminalisation work. We had never represented so well and for the first time at the Toronto World Pride Conference in June of this year.

What is clear, is Belize is taking advantage of its international spaces to educate the international community about its LGBT challenges and evolving national tone, as UniBAM awaits the Supreme Court decision. Along the way, learning that public education nationally has equal value as it does internationally to galvanise support, reshape institutional knowledge and rebuilding national reputation. Belize was also represented  at a Human Dignity Trust meeting in London, on September 4th that allowed a sharing of ideas about our internet campaign, our responses in building public support through our wristband distribution and conducting research on our opponents. A process proving, where supporters will not show up at a large protest, they will show support through symbolism and social media.

The harmonization effort internationally, is affected and driven by activists who do takes advantage of international, hemispheric, regional and national  mechanisms, understanding that personal security will be challenged, political mapping important, but resource mobilization essential. Harmonization is opportunistic, sometimes narrow in scale and guided by facilitators, cultivators. donors and activists who shape responses according to need.  The struggle will be to understand that activism is under pressure in the South to move faster, as marriage equality advances and merged with a basic desire for social and economic protection in a way that seems menacing by the far right. What we know is that L.G.B.T advancement is affected by corruption in Africa, political resistance in the Caribbean, L.G.B.T leadership capacity and visibility. What will the national landscape look like in Belize after the Supreme Court decision? How will the region respond? We simply don't know!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

CARICOM backwardness in Leadership

Reposted July 22nd, 2014

Written by: Sean Macleish 

      I was astonished to read recently that the Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Ralph Gonsalves is warning against mixing the fight against HIV and gay rights. He was quoted as saying, "I don't accept the thesis that to make further advances for HIV and AIDS, that we need to do the decriminalization of homosexual activity among men in private..". 

      A report in the Lancet, one of the world's leading medical journals concluded from available data that "most global cases of HIV are not due to homosexual transmission" but harassment, silence, intimidation and homophobic laws are a major hindrance on the efficacy of HIV outreach and prevention. It compromises the fight against HIV and AIDS.The Prime Minister is misinformed and bigotry is the virus' best friend. Meanwhile in St. Vincent and the Grenadines this is the data we have from the UNAIDS Youth Data Sheet 2013. In 2005 only 25% of the 15-24 age group had ever received an HIV test, while only 9% of those who were tested in the last twelve months knew their result.Twenty four percent of all HIV cases at the end of 2011 were persons less than 24 years old. In 2010 to 2011 there was a 7% increase in the testing levels in the under 24 population.  

       The Caribbean is second in the world to Sub-Saharan Africa in the rate of HIV infection. The primary mode of transmission in the region is heterosexual intercourse with high risk groups to include men who have sex with men (MSM) and there is intersection between the two. Public health academia has known for decades that to effectively curb the global crisis of HIV/AIDS we have to remove institutionalized oppression that re-enforces homophobia. It is not a panacea but it is a major part of the solution. Countries that criminalize homosexuality marginalize MSM which pushes them underground and helps to fuel the HIV epidemic. Treating people with dignity and respect facilitates effective HIV education and prevention. It reduces the discrimination many Caribbean Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender experience when accessing health services. Studies and the resulting data have consistently demonstrated that homophobia contributes to higher HIV infection rates and that internalized homophobia also increases your risk of HIV infection. People who place a high discount rate on their lives tend to participate in higher risk behaviours. The decriminalization of homosexuality to reduce the global crisis of HIV/AIDS is a policy endorsed by the United Nations, World Health Organization, Pan American Health Organization, and many non-governmental organizations. This is the consensual public health approach. Twelve of the fifteen CARICOM member states still criminalize homosexuality as of date.

President Reagan's legacy on refusing to deal with HIV/AIDS in the 1980's allowed the epidemic to flourish with the loss and debilitation of many lives. In 2011 it was estimated that 230,000 people were living with HIV in the Caribbean. There were 13,000 new infections in 2011 and 10,000 people died from AIDS (UNAIDS).

What will be the legacy of our political leaders in the Caribbean?

Friday, July 18, 2014

Health Authorities pledge to improve access to healthcare for LGBT people

Reposted 17th, July, 2014
Washington, DC, 3 October 2013 (PAHO/WHO) — Health authorities from throughout the Americas pledged to promote equitable access to health care for lesbians, homosexuals, bisexuals and transsexuals (LGBT), during the 52nd Directing Council meeting of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), which is being held this week in Washington, D.C.

Ministers of health and other delegates from North, South and Central America and the Caribbean approved a resolution in which they committed to promote equal access to health care in their countries’ policies, plans and legislation.

PAHO Director Carissa F. Etienne expressed support for the resolution, saying everyone has the right to health care and adding that PAHO would work with its member countries to address these issues.

The resolution, presented by the United States and supported by delegates from other PAHO member countries, calls for efforts to overcome stigma and discrimination against LGBTs in the health sector, which often prevents them from accessing needed health services. It also calls for respect for the human dignity and the right to health of LGBT people as well as greater awareness of the diversity of gender expression and gender identity.

“The barriers that LGBT people face in accessing health services—ranging from disrespectful treatment to denial of care—contribute to poor health outcomes,” said Nils Daulaire, assistant secretary for global affairs of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), in presenting the resolution.

Barriers to care for LGBT people include outright denial of care, poor care, disrespectful treatment or even abuse, restrictions against including significant individuals in family treatment of in support and decision-making roles, inappropriate assumptions about the causes of health or behavioral conditions, avoidance of treatment, and poor understanding on the part of health providers of the specific health-care needs of LGBT persons, including trauma-related and behavioral health issues related to discrimination.

LGBT persons experience worse health disparities and outcomes than heterosexual persons in every country across the globe. They have higher rates of depression, anxiety, tobacco use, alcohol abuse, suicide or suicidal ideation, as a result of chronic stress, social isolation, and disconnectedness from a range of health and support services.

The stigma and discrimination experienced by LGBT people in the health sector often keeps them from accessing health services when they need them. The resolution calls for eliminating inequalities in health, including those associated with gender identity and gender expression.

Etienne said PAHO would prepare a report on the health status of LGBT persons and the barriers they face in accessing health-care services, as well as the impact of that reduced access, to help find solutions to these problems.

PAHO is the world’s oldest international public health organization. It works with all the countries of the Americas to improve the health and quality of life of their peoples.

Links Source: http://www.paho.org/hq/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=9056&Itemid=1926

Monday, July 14, 2014

Belize Action attack Rights at the CARICOM level, but screams Freedom under fire in Belize

July 14th, 2014

On May22nd, Belize action and its crew protested, "Freedom under Fire." Presumably christian freedom. In a story written by Adele Ramos of the Amandala, called "Belize protestors call for fund to fight Professor Bain Case," dated May 30, 2014, Pastor Eugene Crawford, president of the Evangelical Association of Belize, called the termination of Bain “very, very unjust."

Let's speak about unjust Pastor Crawford,  who takes their baby out into the night to a bigoted event, knowing that child belongs in bed. Its one thing to have a bigoted parent, but must the child physically suffer in the spirit of religious-base bigotry which has the stamp of approval of the Evangelical leadership. As opponents, the message has always been don't misuse children, but apparently, its alright in the spirit of bigotry like the mother in the right-side picture.  In addition when Belize Action, The Belize Association of Evangelical Churches and United Women's Christian Alliance joined a rabid bigoted group of rights violators called Jamaican Coalition for a Healthy Society led by Dr. Wayne West and Shirley Richards along with 140 evangelicals groups in the region to block," PANCAP Justice for All Declaration and Roadmap," which was an investment in stigma and discrimination reduction, this was unjust. The groups went further and wrote Secretary General LaRocque on June 25th,  to say,"a number of these recommendations are objectionable and do not enjoy consensus support in the Caribbean."  Ignoring that, at the end of 2011 there were 230,000 persons infected in the region with more that 3% of the Bahamian adult population living with HIV. Regionally, 10,000 died from advance HIV at the end of 2011. Yet, its christian freedom under attack.

In Belize, Belize Action  and its crew screamed freedom was under fire, but if that were so, 4,000 people marching across the country would have been jailed and the UniBAM effigy that led the so called constitutional marches in Toledo would have led to a criminal offense. How is freedom under fire when it was not the gay community who brought out people by the hundreds, its was Belize Action and its crew.

What was the issue you may ask, well, the PANCAP Justice for All Declaration and Road Map offered 15 recommendations for CARICOM leaders to endorsed, some of which included the following:

1). Eliminating mother to child transmission
2).Strengthening laws to drastically reduce domestic violence
3).Enacting over-arching anti-discrimination legislation and enacting equal opportunity acts
4).Prohibiting discrimination in employment practices HIV, disability, sexual orientation by 2015
5). Developing standardised modules for the delivery of HIV and AIDS
6).Developing social programmes for the disabled and
7).Accelerating evidence-base policies through research and training
8).Repealing laws that criminalizes sex between consenting male and female adults
9). Ensuring that there are provisions, for criminalising acts with the use of force with minors.

In its statement, JCHS spoke of" in the interest of transparency and accountability, "  and called for a published list of persons who have been part of the consultation process. However, JCHS and its counterpart have never been honest about their US right wing connections  who has  funded their operations. In fact, when the Southern Poverty Law Center launch its report Dangerous Liaisons, Stirm himself, spoke of funding for Belize Action being 100% Belizean. However, a recent facebook conversation between Patrick Menzies and Kern Thimbrel revealed that Stirm's Belize Action may have just one funder. The conversation can be seen below where he asked " Who was the main donor for Belize Action? Tell us honestly, is that person the consensus person," in a position of difference regarding the evangelical association divisions. Patrick further goes on to address a questionable email sent out to mislead non-BA members. 

All it seems, is not well with the slow brewing divisions among the the evangelical leadership. More importantly, Stirm skill at misleading the public is an artful skill that is to be respected. Stirm history of misleading  the public can be linked back to the Bain issue on May 22nd, 2014.

Stirm said in an interview on channel 5, "We are standing in support of Professor Bain. And we are saying to UWI that we are just absolutely shocked that they would cower to that level of pressure from the LGBT.”  He, Belize Action and its crew, then, turns around and signed on to a statement  of 140 church groups that essentially,  did the exact same thing, but this time, communication was sent to every Prime Ministerial Office in the region.

The statement issues by JCHS adds that " We affirm the inherent dignity as bearers of the image of GOD.We are truly concern about the heavy cost on the physical, psychological, social and economic well-being of every Caribbean individual caused by the HIV/AIDS pandemic..."     but goes on to be concern about the definition of discrimination.  The statement went even further and spoke of " we hold the view that while discrimination per se is morally neutral , morals are necessary to enact sound principles for governance..." Totally ignoring constitutional frameworks of every country in the Caribbean and realities on the ground in every single country.

A study suggests that ," The Religious Right and social conservative are "reframing political losses as religious oppression," PFAW's study suggests, in an "attempt to build justification for turning back advances in gay rights, reproductive rights, and religious liberty for minority faiths.""

The point is made from Audrey Matura in her comment on Bain  in a Channel 5 interview ..."You say you don’t want to be discriminated against and now you want to make sure that you discriminate people.  Now, everybody has the right to work.  Imagine, they don’t even want this man to work.”

She continues in another interview in the amandala on May 30th, 2014,  " I was the first one. Now B, Dr. Bain… C. Who will be next?” she questioned. “Will they ask the Bar Association [of Belize] to remove Mr. Courtenay because he went to court and defended, or Mr. Chebat? Or Nigel Hawke because he represented the Government [in the challenge of Maurice Tomlinson to Belize’s immigration laws]?”

Inversing messaging of their opponents has  had a long history in the culture wars. The battle in the courts, in the media, in social organizing, in documentation and reporting, in political engagement is part of the culture war. The battle for rights recognition has gone regional, the regional players are now centered in Jamaica, as one side (the far right) compete to ensure rights restriction and social control, while the other (the left) seeks to balance rights protection and enforcement concerns.

Ultimately though, what the 140 coalition statement did was challenge regional leaders to play their  hand, of throwing out constitutional frameworks for theological positions and posturing rather than responsible  responding to the needs of the marginalised affected by HIV/AIDS which is over 200,000 per year. It is this author contention that, he did not know that the rights and dignity of the marginalised, of those affected and infected by HIV/AIDS required consensus. Apparently, good governance, matters not these days in addressing the economic and social disparities between citizens.

JCHS Statement

Belize Action Organises a peaceful demonstration in protest of Bain termination, May 22, 2014

Stirm Strikes back at SPLC

2nd Protest Against Termination of UWI professor is held a battlefield park.

Justice for All



Friday, June 20, 2014

Belize: Nation of GOD or Nation of Laws.

Posted: 20th June, 2014

Author: Nuri Muhammad

We find ourselves in a dilemma in Belize today; are we a nation of God or a nation of laws? The answer is not as easy as some would believe. Belize is in a transitional time warp that can be better understood if we saw our collective consciousness in two parts: pre-independence and post-independence.
If the same question was posed fifty years ago the answer would be resound: we are a nation of God! While we were never a theocracy by any means, the Christian religious values which underpinned our collective value system made it no question that the majority of us acknowledge the supremacy of God in our personal and collective lives and thus it is not surprising that that God consciousness forms a part of the first principle in the preamble of our constitution. During those days none would have dared challenge the constitutionality of that fundamental principle, out of reverence, or out of fear of being ostracized by this powerful collective consciousness. Questioning God was evidence of blasphemy.
Ask the same question today, however, and the answer is less convicted. Post independent Belize has evolved a new set of values that challenges some of the old values that were taken for granted in pre-independent Belize. One such conflict is in the answer to this simple, yet complex question: are we a nation of God or a nation of laws?
Clearly the politically correct answer is we are a nation of laws governed by the principles of our constitution and all the conventions and declarations we have signed. So while the acknowledgement of God remains the first principle of the document the definition of supremacy is intrinsically challenged by other principles contained in the body of the document itself, especially those which says that every citizen has equal human rights under the law.
The reason there was no challenge to the legal definition of supremacy in pre-independent Belize was because supremacy meant that God’s moral code, as outlined in the Old Testament of the Bible, underpinned all our laws and the preservation of public morality was based on those religious principles. While the principle of privacy was respected in pre-independent Belize, if there was evidence of any display of public immorality there was an immediate reaction from the public and the law.
This is not the case in post-independent Belize. Our social rules are no longer governed by strict adherence to the old definition of public morality as defined in Judo-Christian ethics. In an era where soft and sometimes hard core pornography can be seen by 24 hours cable channels; where graphic dancehall lyrics coupled with hard-core sexually suggestive videos can be consumed on public media without censorship, where women and children continue to be victims of sexual assault, Belize, as far as public morality, now find itself at a place where the question again arises: are we a nation of God or a nation of laws.
The gauge for public display of immorality has been so totally blurred today that the definition of what is morally right or wrong is now reduced to personal opinion and protected by the constitutional principle of freedom of conscience. And if you want to extend your peculiar definition of morality to a group of like minds, you are protected by the constitutional principle of freedom of association.
While these constitutional protections are enshrined within our constitution our exercise of those freedoms was different in pre independent Belize. There would have never been a UNIBAM challenge in a Supreme Court of pre independent Belize. Same people, same country, but different times. While there were the cross-dressing “Carmen Mirandas and Shirleys” in pre-independent Belize there was no perceived threat from their lifestyle as there now appears to be in post-independent Belize with the mob attack on “Vanessa Champagne Paris”.
This mob attack was indicative of this underlying clash of old values versus new values. The mob, and the spectators who did nothing to intervene, felt the victim deserved his ‘punishment’ for breaking “God’s law” which condemns men wearing women’s attire. The mob’s attack was spontaneous and irrational but fueled by an innate sense of rightness and justice in their action. So despite church leaders later distancing themselves from the actions of the mob it was clear that the root justification for this mob attack was religious.
The law on the other hand takes the view that there is never justification for assault on a person regardless to your personal or collective disagreement with them. So despite the moral indignation of the mob and onlookers at the behavior of ‘Vanessa’ and their Old Testament instinct to punish him, the law protects ‘Vanessa’ and condemns the actions of the mob.
It was said by one esteemed Jurist that you cannot legislate morality. By this I think he meant you cannot set out laws governing how individuals will choose to act or not act on a particular moral question since moral conscience is the preview of the individual and no one has a right to direct a persons’ conscience – each is personally responsible; this is a principle in law.
Following this reasoning then, the proponents for repealing S53 say that, “to legislate that a certain kind of moral behavior is illegal, based on “God’s law”, is unconstitutional. The state cannot legislate a person's moral behavior or prevent a person from behaving in a certain way as long as those ways do not affect the rights of others or disrupt the public good”.
While the proponents for keeping S53 as is say, “But isn’t it equally true that if you can’t legislate morality, you also cannot legislate the acceptance of a behavior that a sizeable part of the population finds repugnant and therefore, immoral? Can the state legislate that my child be taught certain material I find immoral; does the state have the right to legislate a morally offensive agenda? Isn’t this the same principle in reverse?”
This is an example of the conundrum that Caribbean Jurist faces today. The legal traditions of the west are based on Judo-Christian ethical foundations and have always had moral and ethical excellence as the goals of good governance. However, as western societies have evolved over the last century they have moved drastically away from a God centered society to a man centered paradigm with a result that “God”, as perceived in the traditional Judo-Christian ethical frame, is no longer the source of law: this has been replaced by a UN system of declarations and conventions called ‘human rights’ which are enshrined in the constitutions of most former colonial states in the region.
What does this all mean for us in Belize, in 2014, and how do we answer the question: are we a nation of God or a nation of laws today? Clearly our recent history shows that we lean more to the latter definition, but are the two mutually exclusive or is it possible to be both? The dynamics surrounding the UNIBAM case brings that question into sharp focus. The battle lines are drawn and the long awaited decision of the Chief Justice will be interpreted as an affirmation of one or the other.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A Review of The Lies of our Opponents

June 18th, 2014

Yesterday, on facebook, for the first time, we saw Scott Stirm admitting to Dominonists Theology in a thread started by Nefretery Nancy Marin. In the thread, Stirm said,"I am grateful for the truths we were taught at Youth With a Mission, and the" 7 influencing areas in society", once called the ”Mind Moulders” that shape our society, now called,”The 7 mountains Areas of Society”. Church, Education, Family, Gov’t, Business & Commerce, Media, Art & Entertainment. Loren Cuningham taught us that when the Church pulls back from any of these areas, then darkness takes over. It’s always important to discern the grace from our lives, for which of the areas He calling into- AREAS plural, because they do overlap. We need that “Issachar anointing” 1 Chr. 12, the “sons of Issachar who really had understanding/discern of the times to know what Israel ought to do...” We have our work cut out for us! Roll up our sleeves! Pray, hear, then GO GET EM!

While Louis Wade said in another thread that," BFLA 3000 babies aborted in 2013, most of them, just as in the US/black Creole babies...what did human rights say?" The Executive Director actually said it was 13. See actual snapshot below:

The lies do not end there, as Belize Action in a flyer said that " Orozco Files International Complaint Against Belize at the OAS." The sad thing about this accusation was that it showed they have little knowledge of the OAS system and failed to do an research to clarify their accusation. It was simply a hearing to discuss a broad area of concern. It was not a legal hearing, it was a presentation that required no formal decision.

This flyer builds upon previous lies which shows that Scott Stirm integrity is low. In a news report on channel seven about the so called constitutional marches, he reported that there were 10,000 people. His comments were made July 29th, 2013 in response to a Southern Poverty Law Center Report. The report read,"According to him, this report was a weak attempt which was timed to try to distract the nation from a month of Constitutional marches across Belize which, quote, “mobilized almost 10,000 Belizeans to stand for Constitutional values and opposed to the 2013 Gender Policy in its present form.”  Even if, Dangriga rally was added to the the numbers, it still would not be 10,000, but such is the hype of Belize Action Scott Stirm.

Not enough to mis-characterise the gender policy,  they sought to malign the Executive Director of the National Women's Commission, Ann-Marie William, regarding statements of the gender policy being a done deal. As usual Belize Action, used a right-wing blogger to make its point. 

Opponents continue with their lies, speaking of orchestrating the mob attack of Vanessa Champage Paris in April of this year. The facebook comments below reveal their ability to twist an event of inhumanity- despite saying they do not support violence- to ignoreand dismiss the abuse and harm experienced by this individual. Furthermore, laying blame on "the orchestrating" and not the perpetrators of violence.

We have countless examples of outright lies being told as fact to the Belizean Public for consumption. We will continue to document each moment as it occurs.

Dangriga Rally

Stirm Strikes Back

Vanessa Champagne Paris

Meeting with PM on Gender Policy Updates

Right Wing Bloggers

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Freedom under Attack! Bain, freedoms and a complicated way to dialogue

Posted June 13th, 2014

For the first time ever, Belize and Jamaica has almost simultaneous protest regarding professor Bain termination. The debate pitted the issue of religious-base bigotry which has a moral stamp of approval against a collective who is concern about the intersecting issues of rights enforcement and protection as part of an overall health policy concern. Historically, CARICOM member states, have not constructively and responsibly addressed the rights concerns of its L.G.B.T citizens in any substantive way. The Bain case, offers the region an opportunity to teach us all about the limits of free expression and thought and the obligations of individuals in a fiduciary relationships that involves vulnerable groups.

The broader concern for the region, is does religious-base bigotry gets a moral stamp of approval to undermine the rights of L.G.B.T citizens in the region and what happens in the struggle for rights acknowledgment which are already in many states constitutions.  The recent debate about Professor Bain termination was argued as an issue of Freedom of Speech in both Belize and Jamaica. Bain, as a result, filed for an injunction on Wednesday to hold on to his job at CHART that he has held since 2001. The article says he is suing on 15 grounds and that Bain is arguing that said disagreement and subsequent termination conflicted with his right to freedom of expression, thought and conscience. He was granted his request for an injunction to prevent his dismissal from Chart on Friday this until his case is heard.

If he is really suing on the basis of "his constitutional rights of freedom of expression and thought," the case has more to do with legal limits on employee behavior than it does on contractual provisions. Interestingly, as I am researching this matter, it does not appear citizens of Commonwealth nations have a protection for "freedom of speech" as contained in the US constitution. Instead, they have laws that protect "freedom of expression and opinion," which may be lawfully restricted to respect the rights and reputation of other persons, national security, public order, public health or public morality. Basically, the distinction limits the actions of people breaching the expression of others to obscenity, defamation and discrimination.

The filing base on "his constitutional rights of freedom of expression and thought," will be interesting as the case moves through the court. In the US, there have been a whole slew of decisions (Garcetti v. Ceballos, Connick v. Myers, Pickering v. Board of Education, Waters v. Churchill, Schumann v. Dianon, Perez-Dickson v. City of Bridgeport, etc.) which uphold that neither employees in the public or private workplace are entitled to First Amendment protection if their speech: is “extraordinarily disruptive” to the workplace or work being done, interfered with the employees job performance, placed strain on his relationships with co-workers, created division within the company, or is insubordinate.

In on case precedent, out of Canada which is extremely interesting and pertinent. "Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission v. Whatcott - The decision rests on a compelling premise: that published statements treating members of vulnerable minority groups as somehow less worthy of dignity or respect – as less human – than the rest of society don’t warrant the same degree of Charter protection as other exercises of expressive freedom." (Please read case link for conclusion)

In another case, Burns v. Dye out of New South Wales is also interesting. Basically a man filed a complaint under the anti-vilification laws (the Australian equivalent to Hate Crimes discrimination laws). The ruling is interesting because it states that just because a homosexual might find the words used offensive, they are not necessarily covered by the law. (I would argue that the absence of such legislation in the Caribbean would equate to the situation where language was not covered by law.) HOWEVER, the court ruled in favor of the complainant because of the public nature of the verbal abuse.

Eweida and Others v. the United Kingdom was a decision that was appealed to the European Court of Human Rights. It ultimately is applicable under 2 provisions. One of the litigants Ms Ladele was employed by the London Borough of Islington, which had a “Dignity for All” equality and diversity policy, from 1992. When in 2004 the Civil Unions law was passed, Ladele, a Christian, refused to conduct civil partnership ceremonies. The court ruled that her view of marriage was not the same as her right to practice her religion and stated that "Islington was not merely entitled, but obliged, to require her to perform civil partnerships" as part of her employment agreement. Another litigant, Mr McFarlane, was a practicing Christian who worked for Relate, a national private, confidential sex therapy and relationship counseling service, as a counsellor from May 2003 until March 2008. He initially had some concerns about providing counselling services to same-sex couples, but following discussions with his supervisor, he accepted that simply counseling a homosexual couple did not involve endorsement of such a relationship and he was therefore prepared to continue. He subsequently provided counselling services to two lesbian couples, which did not consist of sexual therapy, without any problem. However, in 2007 he refused to offer psycho-sexual therapy, on religious grounds, to gay, lesbian and bi-sexual clients. Throughout 2008 employer and employee met many times to resolve the issue. In 2008, McFarlane was dismissed for stating that he would comply with company policy when he had no intention of doing so. McFarlane appealed to the the Employment Tribunal, and the Employment Appeal Tribunal, losing both times as they found he not suffered direct discrimination on the basis of conscience. He had not been dismissed because of his faith, but because it was believed that he would not comply with company policies. With regard to McFarlane's claim of indirect discrimination, the Tribunal found that Relate’s requirement that its counselors comply with its Equal Opportunities Policy did put McFarlane’s religious beliefs at a disadvantage; however, those were legitimized by the aim to provide of a full range of counseling services to all sections of the community, regardless of sexual orientation. The European Court of Human Rights concurred that the decisions limiting religious freedoms were acceptable for the greater good. This case seem to Mirror the issues around Bain and will be interesting to see how the conservative Jamaica court responds in its final decision.

The case of Bain is going to be interesting in its discourse, as there is an issued about intersection of rights which the Court will be ask to define. What has happened in this bi-national case, is an ensuing discourse about the limits of free speech and its impact on vulnerable groups; the limits of employer/employee relations regarding persons in substantial leadership in carrying out the mission of his employer.

Professor Rose-Marie Belle Antoine wrote on the termination of Professor Bain contextualising the issue best: "At the core, it is about a program leader publicly undermining the very program and principles he was mandated to support. By his words and action, he voluntarily aligned himself with and gave endorsement to, a diametrically opposed, unacceptable message on an issue of grave import for the UWI.

The essence of the harm, therefore, more so than the content of the words that Professor Bain spoke, is the fact that an authoritative leader of the UWI, spoke with one voice with a litigant partywhose purpose and objectives are in direct conflict with the policies of CHART and the UWI. This litigant clearly advocates the retention of a discriminatory regime that excludes persons from enjoying rights of equality on the basis of their sexual orientation. Consequently, the testimony instantly became associated with the UWI in deeply negative and enduring ways, placing deep question marks on the UWI’s integrity and on its public commitment, not only to progressive notions of public health and HIV programming, but more fundamentally, to non-discrimination, equal opportunity, justice and human rights.

It is a fact that the elimination of discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation is a key ingredient of the UWI’s HIV programming which Professor Bain had the honour to lead for many years and about which he testified. Anti-discrimination training is a vital part of CHART’s own program, as conceded in the expert testimony. Significantly, too, the mandate of PEPFAR and the Global Fund for Aids, which funds CHART, is “to develop programs aimed at reducing HIV related stigma.”The mission of UWI’s HIV programming, HARP, as well as CHART, from the very beginning, has co-existed with a human rights agenda, a central plank of which is the need to abolish discriminatory laws on sexual orientation. This is incontestable and no one associated with itcan ever claim to have been unaware of this. I can speak authoritatively to this as one who has been intimately involved with the work of the program from its inception. Further, as an HIV & Law consultant who has been actively engaged for over 20 years in policy development across the region, for governments, international organisations and NGO’s, including on important issues of human rights and justice, I understand why this must be so.

Professor Bain’s longstanding and excellent work on HIV and public health, is without question. Ironically, it is precisely because of his high profile that his remarks and chosen association are so damaging to UWI’s reputation and credibility. The retention of Professor Bain in such circumstances threatened to destroy much of the hard-fought gains and trust that UWI has won in the fight against the scourge of HIV and discrimination in general and seriously undermined its own institutional interests. In this context, such testimony cannot be viewed as a mere personal viewpoint, isolated and insulated from CHART and the UWI’s policy position.Indeed, typically, the very reason authorities like Professor Bain are called upon to speak is because of their professional capacity which is inextricably linked with the institution, the UWI. Thus, Professor Bain cannot separate his personal views from these comments that have come to represent the institution that is the UWI, which is why they are viewed as harmful and irresponsible.

While intellectual freedom is to be protected and encouraged, the UWI has a duty to ensure that on issues where it holds itself up as perpetuating a particular policy for the benefit of the community, the persons who are chosen to take the lead on the matter, are demonstrably in accord with that policy. I cannot think, for example, that UWI could ever appoint an academic known to be a racist, or supporting racist ideology, to head Departments devoted to Race Studies or even History Departments, or a person demonstrating that he or she believes or asserts that women are unequal and their place is in the home, to head the Gender Department! There have been several ‘scientific’ studies that claim that blacks are lazy and intellectually inferior, or women the ‘weaker sex’. Does this mean that in the name of academic freedom, the UWI should compromise its core principles of equality and allow its very integrity to be highjacked? I think not.

Professor Bain, as Head of CHART, was in a fiduciary relationship, where one is placed in a position of great trust, which in turn, induces greater responsibility and duties of care. Professor Bain, and by extension, the UWI, with this testimony, violated these fiduciary duties owed to persons living with HIV, the LGBTI community and to the many who look to it for protection and guiding principle.The bottom line is this: Having given this testimony, it would be impossible for this community, the very constituency that he is supposed to serve, ever to trust Professor Bain again. Thus, the UWI had no choice, after careful review, but to change the leadership of CHART. "

The interesting thing is all this, is what will the Jamaican court decide?  We will have to wait, as the drama unfolds. What we do know is that CARICOM member states have failed to uphold the fundamental rights and freedoms of their L.G.B.T citizens in any substantive way. What Bain case may do, is amplify the concerns and needs of L.G..B.T citizens in the region and finally visibilised the fundamentalists movement in the region as well as among CARICOM member state once and for all. Only time will tell.

Take a Principled Stance http://www.guardian.co.tt/lifestyle/2014-06-04/taking-principle-stand-hiv
R v Keegstra case: http://scc-csc.lexum.com/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/695/1/document.do
Saskatchwan Human Rights Commission v Whatcott: http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web... 
 Burns v.Dye New South Wales:  http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web...
Bain takes UWI to Court

Bain gets injunction to prevent dismissal

Eweida and Others v. the United Kingdom