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The Spread of HIV and the Impact of Religiously Sanctioned Violence?


Even before I begin to engage the issue, let me say that I am not asking anyone to sacrifice the moral conscience on the altar of progressive thought or even on that of human rights. I am simply asking for readers to consider the ramifications of religiously sanctioned violence against persons who are considered immoral and to consider further, the implications of shifting the discussion to include the moral indictment of those who dare to perpetrate violence in our society – on ANYONE!!!!

Perhaps by now, some of you may be of the opinion that I am suffering from “moralititis” (a severe lack of morals) because I seemingly advocate for those who are social and moral miscreants. Some may even go as far (and I have been called so to my face) as accusing me of being anti-church. Let me state emphatically, that I am a person with deep biblical convictions and a clear sense of my own value system which inform my idea of what morality is. However, I do not support the use of my moral standards to subjugate and discriminate against anyone who does not believe like I do.

In a recent press release posted on the website of Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition, it was reported that “CVC has received reports from SWs about the levels of violence meted out to them in their line of work. This comes at them sometimes from the Police, from citizens, and even from their clients. In many instances because of the illegality of their profession, SWs are intimidated to make reports or appeal for any kind of justice. As a direct consequence, these acts continue unabated.”[1]

Similarly, there are persons within various vulnerable communities: mobile population, drug users, men who have sex with men and street children, against whom violence is perpetrated. What is not considered is that exposure to violence heightens the risk of HIV infection among persons within those communities. How so? Well, for starters, the fear that is a consequence of exposure to violence may prevent persons from coming forward to be tested and to know their status so as to protect themselves and their partners. We can only imagine the terrible cycle of HIV infection that is resultant.

What is sadder is when there are religious sanctions of such violence. Who can forget Bishop Wesley A. Blair’s inflammatory, insensitive and very theologically famished position in a Gleaner Article when he stated,
"The amount of legislation that is being asked for in the area of abortion, in the area of homosexuality and to legalize anal sex. I want to state categorically and firmly, with every fibre of my being, that I am totally, scripturally against it," declared Bishop Blair "…A homosexual only has one of two rights. It is either he changes his life or accepts the just punishment of God, as He did in Sodom and Gomorrah. [THE LINK TAKES YOU TO THE VERSES, WHICH EXPLAIN WHY SODOM AND GOMORRAH WERE DESTROYED]

Blair did not stop there but he went on to say that he believes that Sodomites who are caught should be beaten. I believe that when the court orders lashing, some of those Sodomites who are caught and some of the criminals, should be brought in the square of Half-Way Tree and be lashed and send them home.”[2]

Sadly, this is someone who reads the same Bible as I do and who has ascended to the lofty corridors of religion; making him the custodian of morality and ethics. Clearly, he has done so with little or no theological training but the “bible” and the “holy ghost” and presumably that is all he needs. However, anyone else with a little bit more than an unsophisticated mind would see the bishop’s glaring antithetical reasoning. Since he claims to be coming from a biblical position, how does he reconcile all of what he has said with violence and dehumanization of another in public? What is the Bible’s position about the immoral person and why did Jesus not allow the mob to stone the woman who was caught in the act of adultery?

Instead of allowing them to do so, Jesus defended the woman’s right to live even though he clearly was not in agreement with what she was caught doing. He also recognized the injustice of those who caught her in the act yet failed to bring the male companion into accountability. Since then the marginalized have always been at a disadvantage as it relates to justice. Further, by his own actions, Jesus repudiated the notion of religiously sanctioned violence (which was characteristic of Judaism).

Certainly, Bishop Blair has the right to state categorically and unapologetically, his disagreement with the homosexual lifestyle and no lobby group should rob him of that fundamental right. However, he must not deny others of their fundamental rights. Perhaps Bishop’s Blair’s fatuous and unfortunate statement is moving us (as Bible believers and practitioners) to shift the discussion of LGBTQ issues to not just include our moral perspectives but to also engage the issue of religiously sanctioned violence against members of the LGBTQ community and sex workers. There is a linkage between violence to these vulnerable groups and the spread of HIV.

What are your views?




  1. Mr. Williams, I think u should be nicknamed the 'marginalized'defender. You sure make it ur duty to advocate on their behalf.

    Well as to ur thesis, i caant say I agree. cause in terms of getting tested, their is no need to disclose profession or status (as far as i'm aware). with the national drive by the aids support and other groups. testing has been brought to the ppl now nore than ever.

    I will agree that no violence should be sanctioned Religiously. Like u said Jesus came to redefine the practices of the Law. Yet i must remind u my friend, the political & legal system does not subscribe to the Principles of the Book. well not in totality at least.

  2. Well, I note the nickname. let me hastily advise you however, Sir that your disagreement does not negate the realities of many. Those who are sex workers and dother who are deemed as social miscreants are discriminated against in the health sector.
    I happen to work along with such persons. Certainly, there are other variables that may change the shade of discrimination against members of the MSM community who are HIV positive. Two such variables are education and economic clout.
    There are studies that do show a correlation between discrimination and the spread of HIV/AIDS. If you have been following the media closely (Nationwide) you would have also heard of cases where persons loss their jobs due to positive HIV results. Where is the Privilege of confidentiality that is due those persons. Believe it or not To be HIV positive in the region is to be relegated to a second class citizen. It is even worse if you are a sex worker and "worserer" if you are an HIV positive male sex worker who has sex with other men.
    What we need is not the moral argument of those sexual behaviour. We need to arrest the pandemic of HIV/AIDS and we cannot continue to discriminate if we are going to do so. EMPOWERMENT mi a seh Straight!!!!


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