By Marion V. Ali, Staff Reporter
Church leaders from various religious denominations throughout Belize led their followers and anti-gay activists in a protest at the Battlefield Park at midday on Friday against the firing earlier this week of Professor Brendan Bain from the University of West Indies (UWI).
The protesters, who carried placards and wore pieces of tapes marked “Freedom Under Attack” over their mouths, specifically rallied against the “agenda” of gay activists who demanded Dr. Bain’s removal following his expert testimony in the case of the United Belize Advocacy Movement (UNiBAM) versus the Government of Belize.
“Whenever we have someone, especially someone like [Dr. Bain] who is a decorated awardee – has done so much good as a doctor – targeted because he spoke out…and when you keep silent about these matters then they will think that it is okay. It is not okay”, said Pastor Eugene Crawford, president, Belize Association of Evangelical Churches. Pastor Crawford said, however, that he can see the concern that the gay community has raised – that they have lost confidence in Dr. Bain because he gave his testimony using data he compiled based on private information. “But it is convenient to them at this point to cry foul. They are saying that [they] must be treated with special care…the church doesn’t see it that way”, he concluded.
Dr. Bain, who was the UWI’s Director of the Regional Co-ordinating Unit of the Caribbean HIV/AIDS Regional Training (CHART) Network and regarded as a leading medical authority on the HIV epidemic in the region, essentially gave evidence that homosexuals are among the most vulnerable to contract HIV, sexually transmitted diseases (STD’s) and cancer. He testified that the behavior of homosexuals poses serious costs and risks to public health should not be encouraged. This prompted a coalition of 33 gay groups from across the Caribbean to lobby for his removal.
Pastor Crawford said that he was pleased with the gathering, which numbered around 150 because it was lunchtime (on a working day) and the event was planned only a day earlier. The church represents about 76 percent of the country’s population.