Michael Kirby is clearly a good if not great speaker! Anyone who has had the benefit of hearing him speak will readily testify that his knowledge and manipulation of the English language is nothing short of artistic. However, his speech at the opening session of the MSM Global Forum’s pre-conference at the recently concluded International AIDS Conference is a lesson that good or great speakers have off days and that bad speeches frequently occur because of poor information referencing and not necessarily poor diction or inarticulateness. In particular Mr. Kirby and others of his ilk should be careful that when they make public pronouncements on matters, that they do not offend the sensibilities of the very persons whose rights they seek to protect and promote. Indeed not observing this simple protocol is very dangerous in the global advocacy profession, as no one wants to be represented by the chauvinistic and il-informed advocate!
The specific issues of concern revolve around his commentary on the state of, or rather absence of, condom distribution in Jamaican prisons and the homophobia that surrounds the very topic. That Jamaica is a MSM-intolerant society is without question, we need only review the despicable display by Tony Rebel at our Grand Gala and the reception he received by the appreciative audience. However, for Mr. Kirby to go on an international platform and insinuate that condom distribution does not occur in local prisons and that when there was an attempt by a “forward looking Commissioner” there were riots and since then prisoners have sex using plastic bags (Scandal bags in Jamaica) is nothing short of SCANDALOUS!
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