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Controversial debate

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Liliane Landor | 17:39 UK time, Wednesday, 16 December 2009

A debate recently published by the World Service Africa Have Your Say programme has generated some controversy. Editor of the programme David Stead explains the thinking behind it:

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By David Stead

"Today Africa Have Your Say debated a bill proposing to make gay activities punishable by death in Uganda. The programme asked:

Should homosexuals face execution? Yes, we accept it is a stark and disturbing question. But this is the reality behind an anti-homosexuality bill being debated on Friday by the Ugandan parliament which would see some homosexual offences punishable by death.
 
The bill proposes: Life imprisonment for those convicted of a homosexual act. The death sentence where the offender has HIV, is a 'serial offender' or the other person is under 18. Imprisonment for seven years for 'attempted homosexuality'.
 
The bill claims to 'protect the...traditional family values of the people of Uganda', but it has prompted widespread international condemnation.
 
Homosexuality is regarded as taboo in much of Africa, where it is often regarded as a threat to cultural, religious and social values.
 
Has Uganda gone too far? Should there be any level of legislation against homosexuality? Should homosexuals be protected by legislation as they are in South Africa? What would be the consequences of this bill to you? How will homosexual 'offences' be monitored? Send us your views.

The editors of the BBC Africa Have Your Say programme thought long and hard about using this question which prompted a lot of internal debate.

We agree that it is a stark and challenging question, but think that it accurately focuses on and illustrates the real issue at stake.

If Uganda's democratically elected MPs vote to proceed with the Anti-Homosexuality Bill this week they will bring onto the statute book legislation that could condemn people to death for some homosexual activities.

We published it alongside clear explanatory text which gave the context of the bill itself (see above). And as we said at the top of our debate page, we accept it is a stark and disturbing question. But this is the reality behind the bill.

This issue has already sparked much debate around the world and understandably led to us receiving many e-mails and texts. We have sought to moderate these rigorously while at the same time trying to reflect the varied and hugely diverse views about homosexuality in Africa."

Update 17 December: Peter Horrocks, director of the World Service has also blogged about the debate.

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Liliane Landor is (acting) head of Africa/Middle East, World Service

Comments

Page 1 of 2

  • Comment number 1.

    Personally, I admire all of you at the BBC for confronting controversy. Only when we are willing to utter even the really ugly ideas some amongst us harbour does it become possible to see how much work remains to be done furthering the cause of Civilisation.

    I do support the death penalty, but ONLY for the most heinous of atrocities, when there is no question whatsoever of culpability -- in cases in which there is cannibalism, or incestuous rape such as that committed by Josef Fritzl, or extremely violent attacks on children and extremely violent, sadistic rapes (such as the one recently committed in Richmond, CA, where a girl of 15 was brutalised by about a dozen young men for over two hours, and was left essentially profoundly traumatised, possibly for life.)

    Yes, I do admire those that believe we can live without severe punishments: however, the presence of sadistic criminality -- and even as evidenced by those who would execute adults for their consensual private sexual behaviour in which no minors or animals are harmed -- shows us that there is still a long journey ahead before sufficiently high numbers of people actively choose to be Non-Violent & Considerate of others.

  • Comment number 2.

    It's simply not acceptable to draw attention to the issue in this way.

    More coverage of a greater variety of news stories on the 24 hour channel , and coverage of the story on the main news programmes is the way to report it. Formally, this is the BBC presenting this as an debating point among other debating points. How awful.

  • Comment number 3.

    Much as agree that this topic should be discussed, I would seriously question the assertion that the editors thought "long and hard" about this debate. Up until 1 hour ago, the question that was being asked was "Should homosexuals face execution?". It's since been reworded to more accurately reflect the supporting text, however it was wholly irresponsible of the BBC, and in breach of its own rules, to pose the question in its original form therefore inviting the kind of homophobic and inciteful comments that seemed to pass quite freely through your "rigorous" moderation process. An apology for sloppy editorial monitoring would be more appropriate under the circumstances.

  • Comment number 4.

    The problem I have with this debate topic is that your website is not just read by people in Africa who might want to debate this, it's read predominantly by people in the UK and many others around the world - and to read a forum topic headed "Should homosexuals face execution?" whatever the context of that heading, is chilling and upsetting. The wording is clumsy and sensationalist, and immediately turns the debate into a yes/no situation and implies that either side of the argument should have equal merit. There is a worthwhile debate to be had on the Ugandan parliament's decision to debate that proposal but the BBC should be very sensitive in how it handles that debate, something entirely lacking here. Quite apart from that, the forum moderation was also clumsily done, with many deeply offensive posts originally passing moderation before apparently being reconsidered and removed many hours later. In short, I believe the BBC website has failed to cover itself with glory on this one - it has handled the whole thing terribly.

  • Comment number 5.

    If the editors "thought long and hard" before asking the question, why was it changed from "Should homosexuals face execution?" to "Should Uganda debate gay execution?" after the board was closed? The latter is a much more sensible question and helps provide context. The former was extremely ill-advised and inexcusable as, regardless of the "small print", it implied that executing homosexuals was a legitimate issue for debate, regardless of its Ugandan context. The original question was frankly inexcusable.

  • Comment number 6.

    Cultural relativism is a foolish smokescreen to hide behind. The topic you proposed debating is vastly different to other gay rights issues such as marriage and adoption, over which you might legitimately plead the right to hear different, non-western/liberal points of you.

    You instead frankly asked whether gay people have the right to live or not. If anyone is in any doubt about the answer to that question at the BBC, they do not deserve to work for it. And likewise, BBC World has a duty to take an implicit side of this particular debate.

    The BBC world service is a British cultural broadcaster. The entire point of it is to offer people around the globe an antidote to often skewed local points of view and local media bias. There are more than enough homophobic media outlets in Uganda and across Africa - almost all of the media there is in fact, homophobic. The BBC World Service has a duty to provide a moral and ethical counterpoint to that, not to court it.

    This isn't an ethical parlour game like the Jan Moir/Daily Mail debacle in the UK. People may die because of this law. Shame on you.

  • Comment number 7.

    I find that the BBC is willing to hide behind the smokescreen of cultural relativism to be a breathtakingly crass attempt at avoidance of their blatant and quite sickening error judgement.

    Presumably we can look forward to "Is the hanging of blacks in the southern states acceptable", closely followed by "Was Germany right to stop at only gassing Jews, Gay Men, Lesbians, Roma, Communists etc. right, or should they have continued further".

    Hey, since you've decided to abandon all pretence of standards of decency and respect for your readers, why stop here?!

  • Comment number 8.

    I would contest whether the BBC actually was debating the issue at all. My comment got "rejected" for pointing out that since 2007 the UK government has been providing £70 million per year in foreign aid to Uganda and that should give us some influence with the Ugandan government. Like many of the HYS comments, it appears to have been rejected in an arbitrary way. (Hopefully this comment will not be rejected because the Blogs seem to be moderated in a more rational manner!)

    The BBC is certainly right to draw attention to such things, even if the original question was so obviously rhetorical to the extent that anyone agreeing would certainly fall foul of the HYS "house rules". However, I did not find a proper news article reporting what was going on in Uganda, and this would have been more appropriate. For example, what is our government doing, or do they simply intend to keep funding such a regime in Uganda with our money!? Can we have more proper journalism that asks these questions rather than shock headlines.

  • Comment number 9.

    Had the BBC website existed in its present form in 1994, would you have invited comments on the question "Are Hutus in Rwanda right to massacre Tutsis, or is that going too far?" Of course not. Yet you were happy to ask whether people thought homosexuals had a right to live, and only subtly changed the question when you received too many complaints. I would have thought a full, unreserved apology would have been more appropriate.

    Can we now expect questions about which there are similarly "varied and hugely diverse views" such as "Should Burmese dissidents be submitted to arrest, torture and show trials?" and "Should women convicted of adultery be stoned to death?"

    The BBC is regarded by many around the world as both a quality news source and a cultural ambassador for the UK. On both counts, you failed miserably.

  • Comment number 10.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 11.

    I confess I really don't understand why this is a controversial HYS. A blunt title? Is that it? So what? Or is it that people would prefer not to discuss such issues, or don't want to admit that in some parts of the world, views like this are entirely mainstream?

    We don't make the laws in Uganda, nor do we set the moral tone. If this is a topic of discussiont here, it's hardly the BBC's fault for reflecting that.

    No, so far as I can see the only thing the BBC is doing wrong is calling its extensive and routine censorshop "moderation", but then it does that on everything from conomic policy to climate change.

    The mroe I read of this controversy though, the more confused I am. Could someone enlighten me; what is it that the BBC is meant to have done wrong?

  • Comment number 12.

    Completely unacceptable. If BBC execs thought long and hard about this then they are clearly in the wrong job. I will be making an official complaint as I imagine will many others.
    Can you honestly claim that its OK for a debate on the merits of executing any minority group in Uganda or any where else?
    This is a classic example of giving utter prejudice a world wide forum.

  • Comment number 13.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 14.

    I'd be very interested to know whether the BBC have used - or indeed would use - such a "stark and challenging question" to headline an apparently sincere debate about the potential mass murder of any other minority group, anywhere in the world.

  • Comment number 15.

    The very fact that such an inflammatory question made it to a "Have Your Say" page is surely down to one thing and one thing only - the general race to the bottom inspired by media organizations ever more desperate for clicks, and the advertising revenues they generate. I am sure the BBC's editors are congratulating themselves on the publicity they've got, and if a few innocent people happen to die through their actions, well, that's an acceptable cost of doing business.

    That is to say, the BBC has allowed itself to become a conduit and a worldwide platform for the most blatant, unmitigated, and most importantly unmoderated, hatred, and comments that will surely inspire further violence, and all this for crass motives that have nothing to do with debate or journalistic integrity, and everything to do with trying to stir up feeling.

    The smokescreen of "balance" and "debate" is just that: an extremist viewpoint does not deserve publicity merely because it "balances" a reasoned consensus; and in any event the BBC did NOT ask a neutral question, but chose the most extreme and outrageous one it could.

    Congratulations, BBC, on becoming the new standard-bearer to the world of the worst excesses of the British gutter press. You disgust me.

  • Comment number 16.

    This reply from the BBC is utter nonsense, a typical attempt to excuse an appalling error of judgement that is, quite frankly, as bad as the original mistake.

    Let's be quite clear, you set up a page which implied, without any clarification, that you believe there is a legitimate debate to be had over whether innocent people should be executed because of their sexuality. You implied that this debate had two equal and legitimate sides to it. Have you no idea how distressing that is to gay people here and abroad? You are hosting a discussion on whether or not I should be executed... how dare you.

    I ask you, would you ever consider posting forums which ask "Should Jews be gassed?" or "Should children be raped?"

    There are numerous ways in which you could have legitimately raised the Uganda issue, but instead you presented the matter as a legitimate debate with two equal sides, no more than a point of interest for general discussion.

    The execution of innocent people for no reason other than their personal characteristics is tantamount to genocide.

    You should be ashamed of yourselves for posting this forum. I personally, and I know others too, have found this to be deeply offensive and distressing.

    You must offer a full apology and remove the page from the site.

  • Comment number 17.

    well, well so you published it - the Anti-Homosexuality Bill - alongside clear explanatory text which gave the context of the bill itself

    even without knowing about the background. well than let me help you . . .

    http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/2009/12/12/17895
    http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/2009/12/14/18034
    http://rawstory.com/2009/11/author-the-family-proposed-ugandan-law-execute-hiv-men/

    but even without knowing of that background . . a discussion with a tenor like that to be discussed in any audio/tv media - probably under freedom of press and speach i guess - is just disgusting and unacceptable.

  • Comment number 18.

    FrankFisher has asked why the article is controversial. From his standpoint I can understand that if a difficult issue exists, then the BBC might be expected to identify and address that difficult issue. If the people of Uganda are debating this question, then it is a question that is real and pertinent.

    However, I do not believe that this particular article (and certainly its original title) was likely to elicit straightforward debate. It doesn't take much thought to work out that the way the question was phrased might be construed as offensive, despite the protestations above. The reason for this is that it was an open question: it invited the response 'Yes', or 'No'. By inviting that response, the headline bypassed in-depth examination of the actual debate and validified the possible answer, 'Yes'.

    Do BBC editors believe that the answer 'Yes' is, in this case, a valid answer?

  • Comment number 19.

    The BBC is a publicly funded institution, and as such it has considerable public responsibility and accountability. I have no problem with a provocative headline, but what you have done is to invite people to have comments published, explaining why they think homosexuals should be executed. There are no two ways about that. It's not about context, it's not about explanations, you specifically asked the question in a big heading title, "Should homosexuals be executed?".

    Even your defence seems somewhat ashamed of the debate title. It presents it as if the title was reworded after the uproar, was the debate title all along. And you have clearly said that this was not a mistake: it was thoroughly discussed. So there is no question about this being a deliberate and conscious decision.

    In my opinion, it is far, far worse than the recent controversy about Andrew Sachs. It is a criminal offence to incite homophobic hatred, and it is unclear to many people whether that was the result of your debate. There is no justification whatsoever from the BBC coming anywhere close to that position.

  • Comment number 20.

    As a gay man who lived through - and survived - the period in British history when all homosexual activity was illegal and could result in men being imprisoned and being estranged from their families and their communities, I could not believe that a public service organisation like the BBC would open a debate with the suggestion that it was debatable whether a minority group deserved to live or die, depending on how they chose to express their love or their sexual desires. It would be an insult to the middle ages to suggest that it might be mediaeval. It is simply barbaric. I presume that the people who 'thought long and hard' about how to pose this question are journalists, but it is hard to imagine that, even in a period when journalists are being targeted and assassinated in places like Iraq, that they would ever have flagged up a topic with a title like: Should journalists face execution?

    Of course, this topic should be discussed. I have lived in East Africa and I am aware of some of the views which are held about homosexual activity; I am also aware that many people in East Africa do not hold such views. But there are lots of ways which are less inflamatory and less hateful to invite people to discuss this legislation which was, by the way, suggested by evangelical Christians from North America. Let's have a debate and not a hate-fest.

  • Comment number 21.

    Let's be quite clear, you set up a page which implied, without any clarification, that you believe there is a legitimate debate to be had over whether innocent people should be executed because of their sexuality.

    This from GrahamSmithLondon who is so upset by contrary views that he wants them cleansed from the internet. Okay Graham, you are really telling me there is no legitimate debate here? Shall I help frame it for you, you're obviously rather shallow in your thinking. Here's the deal - this is a soveriegn country - a democracy too. The people of that country determine its lawmakers, and thus its laws. You appear to be saying that, regardless of this, *your* views should prevail there. What would you like? Us to bomb Uganda until they agree with you? Should we have some more liberal intervention? Maybe strafe some more wedding parties from 20,000 feet until they agree with you? The issues here are significant and they *do* have two sides. How diverse a world do we want? How extreme must a foreign country's internal policies be, before we bomb them? At what point do we reject democracy, and say, "Sorry Africa, I'm afraid we were lying when we said we thought you were just as human and capable as us, actually, Whitey always did know best. Consider yourselves recolonised...."

    Or are none of those questions legitimate? Perhaps you'd like anyone who even *poses* such questions excised from the internet too? Who's the bigot Graham?

  • Comment number 22.

    @FrankFisher

    You think whether or not to murder innocent people is a debate with two legitimate sides? I think that says all I need to know about you.

    Would you say the same about the question of gassing Jews and raping children? What's your view on those questions Frank?

    You think morality changes when you cross over a man-made border?

    You think that in an attempt to show respect for people of other countries we should allow those same people to be murdered by their fellow countrymen?

    I suppose what the Nazis did wasn't any concern of the British either was it? My God, how stupid can you be?

  • Comment number 23.

    Do none of you at the BBC realise that an apology is required? Do you all just expect us to sit back and take your measly excuses for your sensationalism at the expense of every gay person in the world?

    Clearly you didn't think long and hard about the HYS article. You changed the title after having locked people out. Why would you do that?

    Not a single person, I don't think, has commented that this HYS article should never have been published, but the sleazy, typical broadcast media style of it has created such a controversy that you must be loving it, now. More hits to the website. More people watching your news programmes. Congratulations.

    I'm not going to do the usual "complain to the Trust" whenever you lot balls-up, because nothing ever comes of it. Your readership/viewership/loyal followers are simply so large in numbers that the minorities are expendable to you?

    Am I wrong? Prove that I am wrong. You have offended me and I'd very much like an apology, an admission of guilt and a promise to present to me, in the future, such important issues without giving a legitimate opportunity for bigots to air their disgusting views.

  • Comment number 24.

    1930s BBC:

    "Should Jews be rounded up and sent to concentration camps? Yes, we understand it is a stark and disturbing question. But this is the reality behind the rise of Hitler's Germany, where Jews will face execution in gas chambers.

    Has Germany gone too far? Should there be any level of legislation against Judaism? Should Jews be protected be protected by legislation like they are in the United States? What would be the consequences of this bill to you? How will Jews be monitored? Send us your views."

    Has Uganda gone too far? Should there be any level of legislation against homosexuality? Should homosexuals be protected by legislation as they are in South Africa? What would be the consequences of this bill to you? How will homosexual 'offences' be monitored? Send us your views.

  • Comment number 25.

    It looks as though FrankFisher is unaware of all the debates which have raged over the years about the role of external intervention in situations where minorities are being harrassed and/or exterminated by governments that represent the 'democratic will'. I am thinking of the experiences of the Jews in 1930s Germany or the Roma in the modern day Czech Republic or Christians in Pakistan. These minorities may well be disliked but, since this is their home, just what are they supposed to do in the face of majoritarian hatred?

  • Comment number 26.

    "Should women who have sex face execution?
    (Have the Taliban gone too far?)"

    Tell us what YOU think...

    -

    Presumably FrankFisher would be scratching his head about the 'controversy' of the BBC asking that question too?

  • Comment number 27.

    Letting murderers debate their victims is outrageous.

  • Comment number 28.

    I am often irritated by Europeans falling over each other to express their high-sounding opinions on this "African" forum when they should probably be listening to African voices before responding. There is something incestuous about such behaviour.

    That said, Ugandans will probably pass this bill because of the influence of older and more conservative leaders educated in colonial mission schools but most of us wish they didn't even have to discuss the issue because it is nowhere near the economic issues that are close to our hearts. By the way Europeans must not forget they codified these anti-homosexuality laws in colonial Africa themselves and even in places where laws weren't instituted, colonial Victorian values meant severe punishment awaited anyone caught in such situations. In Zimbabwe, Mugabe simply improved on so-called Morality Laws that banned things like interacial sex and so forth. Of course white males had sex with black women -including outright rape - all the time so such laws were really meant to police black male sexuality. Traditional African culture prior to cololianism didn't punish anyone on the basis of sexuality. So please spare us the hipocrisy!

  • Comment number 29.

    Would you have written 'Should Jewish people be killed in concentration camps?'

    Of course you wouldn't. I am disgusted that not only is this debate put up but you then attempt to defend it. What an earth was the team thinking? It's not productive or even provocative, it's offensive and strongly implies that there is 'two sides' to the debate.

    Calling for the execution of gay men and women is not an alternative debate, it is hate speech. Mr Stead should resign.

  • Comment number 30.

    David Stead's "explanation of the thinking" is grossly unsatisfactory, and even more insulting than the original piece with original headline, and the crass and inept initial moderation. A full apology is definitely called for - and equally certainly will not be forthcoming.

    And, of course, I agree with the previous poster who said that there's no point complaining to the Trust - I've complained previously about the level of institutionalised homophobia the BBC consistently displays, to no avail.

  • Comment number 31.

    Thanks to the BBC's inappropriate use of the title of its debate "Should homosexuals face execution?"

    I faced my office debating my right to exist because of my sexuality and was subjected to homophobia as a direct result of the have your say debate.

    Tomorrow I will hand in my notice as I cannot work in a environment where I am not concidered worthy to exist.

    I have reported the BBC to my local police LGBT officer as I feel the BBC have committed the offence of insightment to homophobic hatred.

    The BBC published that headline on its site as it knew it would get lots of comments it did not care about the content. Most of the people who posted never read past the title before they commented.

    I believe the BBC spectacularly failed to protect LGBT people and instead of issuing an unreserved an apology it has dug in its heels and added insult to injury.

    Why should I pay my TV licence for the BBC to subject me to homophobia?

  • Comment number 32.

    I cannot believe this is being debated on the BBC. I expect this idiocy and bigotry from FOX news in America, not, what I use to presume, from the reputable BBC. Have you guys lost your minds? There is no debating whether it's acceptable to KILL a person for being gay. What kind of logic is this? Shame on you, BBC. I thought the United Kingdom had more sense and more compassion on these issues than we do in America.

  • Comment number 33.

    While we’re at it can we please execute all those people that insist on eating jam on a Tuesday. It’s an absolute abomination to our belief system for these people to flaunt their condiments in our faces with their frilly labels and fancy packaging. If people want to eat jam on Tuesday in the privacy of their own home, then fine. But when they’re licking it off spoons in full view of our children then something has to be done. Stick them on an island somewhere is what I say so we can get on with the real issues in society like enforcing a full ‘no shoes’ policy for all indoor places.
    Your etc

  • Comment number 34.

    When I come on to the BBC website, I shouldn't have to defend my right to exist. The BBC also shouldn't let people who believe that I should be executed think that they simply occupy one side in a valid debate.

    I can't believe I've even had to write this.

  • Comment number 35.

    By asking the question 'should homosexuals be executed?' the BBC legitimises the question. It is NEVER appropriate to ask if the murder of an innocent minority group is justifiable. Would the BBC ask 'should adulterous women be stoned to death?'; 'were the Nazis right about the Jews?'. The decision to publish this article is a disgrace and adds fuel to the view that the BBC is institutionally homophobic.

  • Comment number 36.

    "The show also included the opinion of those who supported the anti-homosexual legislation, including religious leaders, she said. "The programme was a dignified exchange between people who have differing beliefs," Landor added."

    This quote shows that Liliane Landor just doesn't get it. A dignified exchange is not possible when one side believes the other should be executed. And to call the murderous bigotry of people, religious or otherwise who support this legislation simply "differing beliefs" is ridiculous.

  • Comment number 37.

    I believe that the crassness of the question was appropriate considering the reality of the situation in many African countries. Yes the question is offensive and sensationalist, but it is not homophobic in and of itself.

    The offensiveness of the question is warranted considering it is an actual question that is facing countries right now. Yes, the West is now at a point where this debate seems absurd, but it would be bad reporting on the BBC to not address the issue straight on.

    Yes it has resulted in many out right homophobic responses, but guess what? Those responses are the valid opinion of people who are living in places where they have the power to enforce their opinions, no matter how backwards they seem to us and to not allow their voice to be heard just because it offends Western politically correct sensibilities, is to ignore the truth of the situation.

    If you can't deal with the reality of an issue, don't expect it to be reported on.

    Grow up.

  • Comment number 38.

    "Contoversial debate"?!??
    You've got to be kidding me. I am shocked and outraged at this reckless and irresponsible so called "journalism". One would expect the BBC, a world renowned leader in news and information, to rise above such a homophobic forum. Instead, the editors of the BBC have allowed and even encouraged extreme hatred and bigotry by even asking such a ridiculous question. Civilized nations do not, under any circumstance, execute people because of their genetic make up. The BBC has promoted hate speech by allowing such vile comments to be published regarding this story. It is just this sort of speech that encourages violent attacks on members of the LGBT community and the BBC editors should be ashamed of themselves. Are you prepared to have blood on your hands by publishing this article? My respect for the BBC is now non-existant.

    Shame on you.

  • Comment number 39.

    By the way - this story about the reaction to the debate, about the death penalty for homosexuality in Uganda, is misleading. It omits the original headline of the article which was 'Should homosexuals be executed?'. That set the tone for the debate and the BBC saw fit to print responses which supported the headline? That is an utter disgrace. If the BBC is funded in part by gay people's license fee then I wonder how on they think legitimising this type of debate is appropriate?

  • Comment number 40.

    You know you've made a big mistake with this, BBC. Have the grace to apologise and reflect on your offensive stupidity. You wouldn't dare couch a question in similar terms if the explicit bigotry was against an ethnic minority or the disabled for example. David Stead, you would clearly be better off working for Fox News as an earlier poster implies.

  • Comment number 41.

    The legal stigmatization and murder of a group of people defined by an innate characteristic, whether sexuality or race, is not a fit subject for "exchange" or "debate" or "dialogue" unless you believe that there is enough merit in that stigmatization and murder to warrant debate.

    That the BBC thinks that Uganda's pogrom against gay people is worthy of debate is sickening.

    I wonder if the BBC would equally defend a headline like, "Should Africans face execution?" or, "Should Muslims face execution?" - and particularly the latter since, despite the rantings of religious apologists, no one is born as an adherent of a given religion - religion, unlike sexuality and race, is not innate.

    The question I'd like to see is, "Should BBC editors face execution for complete cluelessness and lack of decency?"

  • Comment number 42.

    Although I already have low expectations of the BBC when it comes to treating gay people fairly, they have really gone too far this time. I still can't quite believe it. The question was deliberately provocative and implied that the subject of murdering innocent people is worthy of legitimate debate. It would never have been used in reference to any other minority. Personally, I don't want to hear lame excuses from the editor, I am angry and deeply offended by this, and the BBC must issue a full apology to it's gay & lesbian licence payers immediately.

  • Comment number 43.

    The editors' stubborn defence of this awful gaffe makes matters worse. It is not enough to explain that your intentions were good and that you "thought long and hard" about it. Even well-meaning people (and I am prepared to give the BBC the benefit of that doubt) can make serious errors of judgement. Why can't you just recognise you got it badly wrong and apologise?

  • Comment number 44.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 45.

    I've had grave worries about the direction of the BBC in recent times under the directorship of Mark Thompson. I cite for example his refusal to air the chairity appeal for the victims in Gaza and his decision to invite the fascist leader Nick Griffin to Question Time. I personally am deeply offended by the BBC's latest forum debate on whether gays should be executed, and the BBC's apparent attenpts at justifying such a debate. I think on this occasion the BBC should be prosecuted under incitement to hatred legislation.

  • Comment number 46.

    When I saw this I wanted to vomit. I can not believe that my license fee is being used as a way of encouraging such hateful sentiment.

    If the corporation is being neutral on issues of cultural relativism when can we expect questions asking

    Is it acceptable for non -Western men to beat their wives?
    Is it ok to kill children if we think they are witches?
    Is stoning an acceptable punishment for adulatory ?

  • Comment number 47.

    As a young gay male of 22, born and raised in South Africa, I find the headline chosen for the debate, the debate itself, and Stead's laughably pathetic attempt to justify all this putrid. It would be a similar scenario if some nut-jobs were to decide to lobby to bring back hateful laws like those of Apartheid, and if one of our local news agencies were to say 'Should black people be killed, and forced to live in restricted areas of the country?' While people's views can't be controlled (in some cases, unfortunately), it is horrifying that the BBC would create a platform for the expression of such sick views as being even remotely legitimate.

    What I find laughable about the whole thing, and about how members of various religious denominations and minorities will respond, is that people who have been opressed within a minority will queue for their rights to be recognized, but will turn around to the next minority in line and say 'but not for you'. Has suffering taught them no empathy? I say shame on them, and shame on you.

  • Comment number 48.

    As a US citizen I read alot of British News, including BBC in part because the best journalist in the UK have in most cases been more thoughtful and objective than in the US in general. I have also been impressed with how careful you have been as a culture to resist the American illusion that somehow says if you allow hate speech then it will somehow be exposed for what it is and defeated by the right thinking masses. As a gay man I have looked at your handling of this matter with a great deal of shock and sadness. At this very momment GLBT persons are being imprisoned, killed, etc. in many places all over the world. The Africian country in question is in the process of making law something that defies human values of any kind. You have given into a post-modern relativism that may in time see many more die and suffer in part because respected news organizations like your own just don't get it. In a humane society you don't debate the very right to live as if you were playing a game of tennis. Please offer a sincere apology, and then have a long heart felt debate among yourselves about the line of decency that you will not cross. Thanks for letting me express my thoughts.

  • Comment number 49.

    To David Stead and to those defending (and even applauding) the BBC's "realism" in framing this question as an open, ostensibly legitimate debate, I ask again: could they point me towards other examples of the BBC having used similarly "stark and challenging" questions to ask, with apparent sincerity, whether other minority groups might reasonably be executed or whether systematic mass murder of innocents is perhaps going "too far"?

    I ask because I really am genuinely racking my brains to recall other times the BBC has initiated a debate of this sort, in this way.

    I'm also interested in how the BBC reconcile both the question and the (apparently rigorously moderated) responses with its own "house rules" for Have Your Say, which state: "Do not post messages that are unlawful, harassing, defamatory, abusive, threatening, harmful, obscene, profane, sexually oriented, homophobic or racially offensive".

  • Comment number 50.

    Your house rules for comments state:

    We reserve the right to fail contributions which

    * Are considered likely to disrupt, provoke, attack or offend others
    * Are racist, sexist, homophobic, sexually explicit, abusive or otherwise objectionable
    * Contain swear words or other language likely to offend

    As the original question was "Should homosexuals face execution", I am somewhat offended that my continued existence should be called into question. As others have no doubt pointed out in comments, had it been able to do so at the time, would the BBC have hosted a discussion entitled "Should Jews/Roma face execution", no doubt amending it to "Should Nazis debate the execution of the Jews/Roma" when criticisms started to flood in?

    While the proposed Ugandan legislation is worth discussing, including the ethics of continued aid should Uganda adopt a policy of exterminating part of its population simply because of who they are, this should have been conducted using a less inflammatory slogan.

  • Comment number 51.

    I find the way the topic for discussion is presented totally repugnant. It implicitly conveys the fact capital punishment should be considered. It is tabloid journalism. There are many ways of entering into discussion on this topic but this is not the correct one. If this law is passed people will die. No credence should be remotely given to arguing for that outcome. The person who wrote it at the BBC should be sacked. What would be more appropriate is discussing whether the UK should impose sanctions if Uganda implements this law because most people would consider it a breach of human rights. The BBC continues to slide. Dismal.

  • Comment number 52.

    48 pax58

    I assure you that one does not have to be gay to be shocked with this. A new low for the BBC. If this topic is initated by one person then it is poor that it was not edited out at the BBC. If it was edited in, then that is just as poor. As post number 50 has pointed out - the BBC cannot even abide by the standards it asks others to comply with.

  • Comment number 53.

    Would it be too much trouble for you to seek out gay BBC staff members and ask "Do you think homosexuals should be executed?" It would be interesting to see their responses, unless of course, their honesty would cost them their jobs.
    This is a sad and totally disgusting day for world journalism.
    I'm afraid my initial emotional response to your idiocy would not get by your censors. Yet somehow your inhumane and dangerous question went unchallenged. Have you lost your minds?

  • Comment number 54.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 55.

    Liliane Landor:

    Thanks, for allowing this type of controversial debate to come to the
    for-front of society since, it is a controverisal issue; but, it is a issue that needs to be reviewed and understand to a mutual agreement.

    =Dennis Junior=

  • Comment number 56.

    The way Western countries view homosexuality (Canada, USA, UK) is much different than how it is viewed in Africa. I'm sure the BBC didn't mean to ask about this issue as if the only answers would be "Yes, murder" or "No. don't do it"....having been to East Africa has taught me just how different the African and Western cultures are, especially in regards to sexuality (Kenya penalises any percieved homosexuality with up to 14 years in prison the last time I checked). My bottom line is this: In no way should sexuality determine whether you live or die. I'm all for democracy, but for mob ruling I am not. Rights belong to everyone-No matter what. No matter where you live. I do commend the BBC for bringing attention to this issue, because it is serious and will make an impact on all human rights given any outcome in Uganda. Next time however, I might reccomend that they have at the very the very least a disclaimer stating what they are and are not trying to say.
    -K

  • Comment number 57.

    The BBC needs to apologize immediately for their stupidity. This is beyond insulting.

  • Comment number 58.

    This is disgusting. Signing off of the bbc...

  • Comment number 59.

    Questions:

    Does Uganda subscribe to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?

    Does the BBC have an Equality Policy that includes sexual orientation?

  • Comment number 60.

    The consequence of Uganda and other African states passing such a law can only be a dramatic decline in tourism. More holiday makers will now carefully avoid going there and chose more Western friendly destinations.

  • Comment number 61.

    You legitimise Uganda and their planned massacre of a section of society by even framing a question like this as though it were up for debate.

    You then make it worse by having this page titled ‘controversial debate’. It isn’t controversial it is shameful, and morally reprehensible.

    You even then ask ‘Has Uganda gone too far?’ as if the suggestion is that there is a legitimate amount of discrimination against gay people that is acceptable.

    Ask yourself why you would never pose the question ‘Should Jews be executed?’ to debate the Middle East.

  • Comment number 62.

    Well, I've just signed up (having admittedly never been here before) being from another world I guess- because I simply cannot believe what I'm seeing. Here are the BBCs own words-

    "We reserve the right to fail contributions which"

    and truly it does clearly say that 'we (the BBC) reserve the right to fail' and fail it has done so mightily if these next words are actually supposed to somehow be the truth.

    * Are considered likely to disrupt, provoke, attack or offend others
    * Are racist, sexist, homophobic, sexually explicit, abusive or otherwise objectionable
    * Could break the law or condone or encourage unlawful activity.
    * Describe or encourage activities which could endanger the safety or well-being of others

    Unfortunately I can't actually use the words I'd like to- because every single word would offend heterosexists- especially the religiously bigoted ones who can't think for themselves but love to quote scripture. Really- anybody's scripture- all of it.

    I'm gay. Too bad for all of you heterosexists. I'm 56. I'm a human being- a working artist. To make it through the 1980s AIDS crisis I had to do a lot of spiritual work on myself. I made some pretty profound pretty direct universal connections- like- you know- to god/goddess- and I'm still gay. Being gay (and not a totally out of balance heterosexist)- it was actually easier for me to make said direct spiritual connections- but I know you'll all have a difficult time understanding that. Oh well. Too bad for you.

    I'm gay. Redundant? Maybe so- but apparently all you heterosexists don't get the idea that gay and lesbian HUMAN BEINGS exist- just like you do. We exist. And for no other reason that that we exist- WE HAVE A RIGHT TO EXIST. And you- no matter what your religious beliefs are- have NO RIGHT to attempt to deny us the right to exist. When will you idiots get that through your thick heads?

    This article and discussion proves in fact that you will never get it until you have died and are no longer a part of the problem. And apparently that includes the responsible 'journalists'...

    YOUR RELIGIOUS BELIEFS DO NOT MY CIVIL RIGHTS NEGATE.

    I'm sure you know what you can do with all your scripture- because some of us enlightened gay folk don't need you- or it.

    Religious heterosexists don't get to vote on my civil rights.

    I'm gay. My sexuality does not make me a criminal. You have no right to even think you can execute me because I'm not a heterosexual.

    It's almost 2010. I'm a human being. I've lived for 56 years in a demeaning and destructive heterosexist society. I'm enormously creative and profoundly spiritual. And I'm gay.

    YOU LOSE.

  • Comment number 63.

    There must be need to respect other peoples culture and way of doing things. If in Uganda homosexuality is a crime. Let it be. If it is not in the United Kingdom, good for the UK. Laws must reflect the culture values of the society in which they are located.

  • Comment number 64.

    You have compounded the original offence by defending what you did. What is happening in Uganda should be discussed but the headline and the way the 'debate' was framed was totally unacceptable.

    If the BBC isn't willing to apologise unreservedly then we will move onto the people who ARE willing to do something about this, to make sure it never happens again. Namely the police and MPs.

    After fighting to improve things for the LGBT community for years I'll be damned if a broadcaster in our country will get away with inciting hatred and presenting the killing of homosexuals as some kind of valid point of view. That is what you did.

  • Comment number 65.

    If the BBC truly wans to confront controversy and highlight this issue, then the question should have been "Should Christians be executed?" as it's the fundaentalist Christians who are pushing the "Kill the Gays Bill"

  • Comment number 66.

    I suppose what the Nazis did wasn't any concern of the British either was it? My God, how stupid can you be?

    Stupid enough not to realise that wanting something and getting something are two different things?

    I realise that in the rewritten history of GSCE, the UK went to war to stop Hitler killing jews - we did not. That's a lie. We went to war because *we were threatened* by german expansion. I honestly cannot believe that after Iraq and Aghanistan we still have these shrill ignorant voices demanding yet more "liberal" intervention, to impose your views on other countries. And please, be clear, that is the only way you will get your way.

    This silly, childish, shallow, dull-witted emotive hysteria is sadly typical of the UK now. It's rare that I side with the BBC, but faced witht he stupidity of the twittering masses I do on this occasion.

    Try to look at practicalities, realities, and consequences.

    It is *nothing* to do with us what happens in Uganda. Morally, legally, practically. Nothing to do with us. Get over yourselves.

  • Comment number 67.

    The original headline “Should Gays be Executed?”as the title of an online debate was offensive and a huge mistake. It was inevitable that the exercise would degenerate into an open-mike session for bigots everywhere. There is nothing wrong with the BBC drawing attention to the latest civil liberties crisis in Uganda, but to present the issue as one which is still open to debate in those terms in the rest of the world – particularly in its home turf in the UK – was a serious lapse of judgement. It is not enough for the editors to justify themselves by saying they thought long and hard about their rather peculiar treatment of this story. In fact it makes things worse because even now they clearly cannot see what the fuss is about.

  • Comment number 68.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 69.

    Does Uganda subscribe to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights?

    There's nothing in the UDHR about homosexuality, nor does it forbid capital punishment.

    Does the BBC have an Equality Policy that includes sexual orientation?

    So... it shouldn't report on or discuss any country or person that
    doesn't have the same views on "equality"?

    I'm still baffled.

    It seems that what has annoyed people is the BBC simply accepting that *some people* would quite like to execute homosexuals. I can't imagine what else it is you all think they've done wrong. This twitter generation certainly does seem capable of getting into a terrible huff very quickly, and on a very large scale, but you don't seem able to articulate your points very well. Is it that, if something can't be explained in 140 characters you can't do it?

  • Comment number 70.

    How telling that this sorry explanation of your shoddy journalism has attracted... 70 comments. The Guardian's commentary on the furore has attracted 240.

    I see this as a confirmation of people's lack of faith in the BBC, accelerated further by your disgusting question.

    Such a shame, really. Though, I almost expect another gaffe next month, now.

  • Comment number 71.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 72.

    We have already seen what happens when senior people in the BBC debate anything and it isn't pretty. But the reasoning behind the "controversial" headlining is pure "sensationalism" on behalf of the usual suspects.

    In a democracy it is healthy to have all sides represented regardless of personal interest or perspective. There are so many bad things in the world but the BBC chooses this one - Selective Attention Deficit and very, very SAD, BBC. Stop treating "minorities" as if they are all getting a raw deal in life.

  • Comment number 73.

    And, by the way, everybody knows why the question "Should homosexuals face execution?" was asked.

    Not until one gets to the article page is this alleged "context" offered. You know very well that the headline will appear all over the BBC News site. "Should homosexuals face execution?" will have been plastered on various places without the "context" in order to entice people in - most of whom will not have read the article before jumping into the "debate".

    And on a slightly different note, why were homophobic comments dominating the "debate", when one of your censorship rules state that such comments are not allowed?

    To conclude and end my response to this whole thing, I will state for the record that I DO NOT think there was any harm meant by the HYS article. It is commendable that you should help us Westerners face such an alien issue. Well, alien for some of us, anyway.

    Just think before you speak next time, and perhaps off the apology that people are asking for. don't forget where so much of your money comes from. We Britons. Including the gay ones.

  • Comment number 74.

    "It is *nothing* to do with us what happens in Uganda. Morally, legally, practically. Nothing to do with us. Get over yourselves." from FrankFisher

    What an obnoxious, odious, immoral and vacuous position to take. Firstly, noone was suggesting we invade Uganda, start wars, impose our liberal view by force or anything else that you've dreampt up in your squalid little mind. Secondly, not being able to take such actions does not mean that what happens around the world is nothing to do with us. Artificial borders do not protect murderers, rapists and thugs, as international law and laws on extradition and war crimes have demonstrated time and again.

    More over, this debate is not about whether or not we should act on Uganda's policies (although we do have a moral duty to do so, something you perhaps don't understand given your amoral standpoint). It is about the BBC proposing that the question of whether or not gay people should be executed is a valid topic for debate in which there are two equally valid points of view. If you are so lacking in any moral substance, or any substance at all, that you think this is a serious debate with two equal sides that shame on you.

    I ask you, would you accept the following topics for debate on the BBC forum: "Should Jews be gassed?", "Should children be raped?", "Should we murder old people to save money on pensions?"

    I do hope I never see you getting mugged or murdered on the other side of the road, because clearly if you're on the other side of the road it'll have *nothing* to do with me, morally, legally, practically.

  • Comment number 75.

    Firstly, noone was suggesting we invade Uganda, start wars, impose our liberal view by force or anything else that you've dreampt up in your squalid little mind.

    Well what are you suggesting then? Or had you not thought any further than kneejerk outrage? Why get so narked about the BBC's approach if you have none of your own? How were you about to ensure the Ugandans played along with your ideals, or if you're not suggesting they *should*, then why get so het up?

    Secondly, not being able to take such actions does not mean that what happens around the world is nothing to do with us. Artificial borders do not protect murderers, rapists and thugs, as international law and laws on extradition and war crimes have demonstrated time and again.

    mmm but mostly they do - and why claim borders are "artificial"? every piece of law on the planet support the notion of borders and nation states. Every aspect of democratic theory supports the notion of independent governance. I imagine you're all in favour of these things, until people vote in a way you disagree with? It apepars to me you're just another daydreaming utopian who probably imagines in a socialist paradise everyone will just get along dreamily...

    More over, this debate is not about whether or not we should act on Uganda's policies (although we do have a moral duty to do so, something you perhaps don't understand given your amoral standpoint).

    I don't have an ammoral standpoint, I respect and agree with principles of self determination. You apparantly do not.

    It is about the BBC proposing that the question of whether or not gay people should be executed is a valid topic for debate in which there are two equally valid points of view. If you are so lacking in any moral substance, or any substance at all, that you think this is a serious debate with two equal sides that shame on you.

    If there are not two sides, then why are we talking? If there are not two sides, then why the lengthy discussion here and on the original HYS? *You* don't think there are two sides, so you wish to erase the debate. Classic technique of totalitarians over the decades - we see it with AGW too. "There is no debate, everyone agrees, no need to discuss this further, the argument is settled..."

    I ask you, would you accept the following topics for debate on the BBC forum: "Should Jews be gassed?", "Should children be raped?", "Should we murder old people to save money on pensions?"

    Yes - why not? What harm does talking do? It upsets you? Tough. BTW, on the last topic in particular, you'll find people like Pete Singer have built entire careers. Moral philosophy may be beyond you, but the finer points * are* of interest to others. Legitimate interest.

    I do hope I never see you getting mugged or murdered on the other side of the road, because clearly if you're on the other side of the road it'll have *nothing* to do with me, morally, legally, practically.

    Maybe if the road runs down the cyprus green line, or perhaps seperates N from S Korea? This is the crux - if it were not Uganda, but Uttoxeter, then you'd have a point. Our jurisdiction does not extend to Uganda. We dont' get to decide on their laws. We don't get to tell them what is right and wrong. We can have opinions, of course, but we have no right to impose them. And recent history shows us that when we *do* try to impose those values, we generally make a bad situation worse.

    I'm impressed with this though, I've rarely seen so many people so wrong in so many areas at once.

  • Comment number 76.

    "stark and disturbing question."Really? There are more disturbing questions in Africa than the issue of homesexuality. Have you thought about how many children go to bed hungry? How about the never-ending wars in Africa? How comes you never discuss about the bitting poverty in Africa, the African dictators propped by the western world?The number of people dying of malaria is very disturbing.People dying of AIDS while the rest of world looks away is very disturbing. I wonder whether you have considered how the unfair trade practices by the western world, have kept Africa in a perrenial state of dependence?The list is endless. Do your readers justice by focusing on real issues!

  • Comment number 77.

    Look what's happening now. Frank Fisher is defending the BBC's 'right' to debate whether I should be executed. Thanks BBC. I thought the 4 ***** and Piano were homophobic but relatively harmless in the context of the low-level homophobia across the BBC (from Chris Moyles to Jeremy Clarkson to DJ Spoony) but this 'debate' is truly beyond the pale. Why is the debate still visible. Does the BBC REALLY think that my execution is a subject that needs to be discussed. Why am I paying my license fee to an organisation that thinks this is acceptable?.

  • Comment number 78.

    I doubt that any of the BBC writers who originally posed this title have ever had to face the level of prejudice that the gay community have and still do experience. To even advocate the possibility that it is justifiable to take a human life based on the grounds of their sexual preferance is absolutely disgusting and I somewhat doubt the same question would have been posed if a foreign government were debating the executing of a religious group.

  • Comment number 79.

    What ever happened to free speech and the right to ask a difficult question. I salute the BBC for actually asking a good question and getting the responses it got.
    What was most interesting from comments on this site was that this problem is clearly not isolated to Uganda and how many people would support the issue.

    The Uganda/Africa situation aside, it does highlight that the "tolerant" society we are living in is not as tolerant as we believe - a fact in this particular case that is backed up by the rise in homophobic attacks and related deaths. I am sure that the people who kicked to death a man in Trafalgar Square would agree with the original topic heading from by the BBC.

    Why does the press continue to hide away from the truth in this country. If nothing else it only goes to show that tolerance in this country is not due to the people but due to the law and that homophobia, like racism, still exists and is as rife in peoples minds as it ever was. And this extends far from our shores - homosexuality is still one of the last taboo's and the propaganda being touted around is not dissimilar to the propaganda of the 1940's.

    Well done BBC - maybe others need to follow your lead - because if no one asks the question to the general public, then no one will know the answer and we will continue living in the clouds.

  • Comment number 80.

    And appallingly, even as this debate continues, Rwanda's Parliament is - as we speak! - debating a revision to its Penal Act, Article 217, which criminalises homosexuality and anyone who "sensitises" others to it. No, they're not going to kill them, just stick them in jail for 5-10 years. Which is pretty much the same thing, really. As in Burundi & Uganda, a Christian-focussed hierarchy are preparing to trample on their human rights requirements for the sake of their beliefs.

    So - BBC - can we now have the question posed for your African readers - why are African Christians happy to sanction judicial killing? Or is that a step too "stark" for even you?

  • Comment number 81.

    There are governments in the Middle East that have rather questionable policies regarding Israel, would the BBC open a discussion based on whether or not Israelis should face annihilation/murder? No, didn't think so. Funny, that. I've been in the BBC's "side" through most recent controversies- Sachs, Newsnight etc, but this is ill thought out and offensive. Shame on you, BBC, I for one will not be relying upon the site for news any longer.

  • Comment number 82.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 83.

    Ian asks:
    "What ever happened to free speech and the right to ask a difficult question."
    Freedom of speech does not extend to legitimising a debate on whether the murder of an innocent minority group is acceptable. That is incitement to hatred and that is unacceptable. Would the BBC pose the question 'Should Jews face execution?' on its Arabic news service. Some poeple in the Arab world believe this but the BBC would NEVER authorise and legitimise such a debate. The BBC has caused mass offence by its decision to hold this 'debate' and is causing further offence by the homophobic double standards it is now applying. Shame on the BBC.

  • Comment number 84.

    You still don't appear to get that asking a question that boils down to "is mass murder a good idea?" is not an appropriate question to ask. By asking that question, you set up "yes" as a legitimate answer.

    The rephrasing of the original question to "Should Uganda debate gay execution?" doesn't help this. If 'Yes' is a legitimate answer to that question (and if it isn't, it's not a suitable question for a debate), then that implies there is a reasonable debate to be had. It's just a more indirect way of asking "should we kill all the gay people?".

    Packing context around the question and even acknowledging that other people are asking it doesn't make it a legitimate question to ask. There are plenty of questions around why it's being debated that are perfectly legitimate questions to draw out people's opinions on the controversy. This - in any variant - is not one of them.

    If you're not willing to think about this long enough to realise what you did wrong, please step aside and let someone with empathy, decency and compassion take your place.

  • Comment number 85.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 86.

    "Here's the deal - this is a soveriegn country - a democracy too. The people of that country determine its lawmakers, and thus its laws. You appear to be saying that, regardless of this, *your* views should prevail there. What would you like? Us to bomb Uganda until they agree with you?"

    Silly Britain, by this logic we should have just let Hitler get on with it. After all, why should our views prevail? Why should we be so arrogant to think we are right in thinking jews shouldn't be gassed?

    If anyone hasn't realised, that was sarcasm. I am disgusted by the BBC. The person who made this editorial decision should be fired. This debate is inciting hatred and suggesting it is reasonable to believe homosexuals should be executed. It is not and this debate should be illegal under incitement laws.

  • Comment number 87.

    #85

    Well said sir.

    I have lived through and survived the changes in the UK law on homosexuality, the invention of a word to describe those who "dislike" homosexuality, the pressure groups and positive discrimination for gay people, and a few unpleasant "attacks" on me by gay people.

    My personal views on homosexuality are mine, to cherish and do what I want with in the name of free speech. I accept that my views might change were I attracted to a member of my own sex. I dislike "noisy" minorities who like to pick a fight with anything they disagree with. I dislike a society that discriminates on anything, positively or negatively. I do not believe that anyone has a right to "impose" on other cultures, creeds or beliefs unless he or she intends to do something about it and my advice to all those finding the Ugandan "proposals" unjust is to go there and protest. Do so in your own right but do not believe that you can hijack the UK's major broadcaster to do it for you.

  • Comment number 88.

    I am amazed about the double standards that the BBC exhibits in their efforts to cover world news. For a whole qurter of a century indegenuous Ugandans, international correspondents and UN observers reported about the appalling human rights abuses in Northern Uganda but the BBC appeared to have adopted a silence conspiracy against the Acholi people of northern Uganda. Now we are gripped in the throes of a debate about gay people. I homosexuality is not alien in any society that man inhabits. Yes indeed it is not a social, sexual norm but from time immemorial, men have indulged in homosexuality, particularly where they have been in close confines (in wars, hunting and more recently in boarding schools) they have tended to assume gay tendencies. Look at the problems in the boys' boarding schools in the UK.

    So today, even the BBC is conducting a poll on homosexuality which, to me, reeks of double-standards considering they never conducted a debate about IDPs and Museveni's brutality over 20 years. Are the Acholi considered sub Human enough for the BBC not to care about their welfare for 25 years are is it the ccase that the Acholi lives are less important than that of Gays. neeedless to say that those massacred in Acholi by the Ugandana government may have included gays as well.
    Let the BBC get real and people shall respond apprpriately otherwise it is just a farce to justify spending hard earned licence fees.

  • Comment number 89.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 90.

    Frank Fisher - if you really cannot see what people are objecting to, then you can't understand some of the plainest English I have read on the BBC website. I don't think anyone is surprised that some people have extreme and murderous views about homosexual men and women. The surprise and disappointment is that in handling the story in the way it has chosen to do the BBC has appeared to legitimise the debate as to whether it is morally acceptable for the state to execute gay men and women for their sexuality. You possibly need to have grown up in a liberal democracy to understand why even posing the question is an extraordinary thing to do. I have no idea what your views are or what your background is but the BBC is part of that liberal western tradition - possibly, indeed, one of its most influential exports. In posing the question in the way it did, the editors appeared to have left behind legitimate reporting on the issue of what is happening in Uganda and put the question - on its own behalf - to its readers. Not only did this pointlessly provide an instant magnet for people who many would consider to be extremist homophobes, but given the BBC's influence in parts of the world where this sort of question might actually be taken seriously, was a lapse of judgement. This is the point that I think you are missing. I may have mistaken your real gripe, of course, and you may just be defending people's right to sound off about how awful homosexuals are. If so, then there are plenty of other places on the internet that do just that. The BBC should not be one of them.

  • Comment number 91.

    When will the West and people with common sense realise that we must respect the views, cultural ideologies and religious beliefs of other countries? The title refers to a country on an entirely different continent...
    History should have shown the West his little control or influence over the African continent since it decided to withdraw from former colonies. Therefore, the West should not try to dictate to other countries. It should instead concentrate on reversing the decline in its own moral values.

    The title is merely a debate and simply requesting peoples views...

  • Comment number 92.

    I cannot believe that people on here are defending the BBC's decision to allow an open debate on whether a minority group deserves genocide. But when the BBC legitimises a question about whether genocide is justified then what can you expect?
    Come on BBC - enough of your homophobic double standards. Frank Fisher and Angel in Transit are impatient for the Have Your Say debate on whether Black people or Jewish people should be executed for no reason other than their race or religion.
    The BBC has let the genie out of the bottle with this story. Where is the debate on whether islam is 'evil'? Where is the debate on whether women should be stoned to death for showing their faces. Where is the debate on whether handicapped people should face euthanasia?
    I mean it - if the BBC thinks legitimising debates on the merits of genocide are acceptable then there can be no double standards.

  • Comment number 93.

    Interesting article in Pink News about the BBC's murderous breach of impartiality in having allowed this debate to occur in the manner it happened. http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2009/12/17/comment-a-murderous-breach-of-impartiality/

  • Comment number 94.

    it is none of the ugan governments buisness, this is alarming and shows that there is a black hole some peoples understanding of what it is to be a normal human being

  • Comment number 95.

    Frank Fisher - if you really cannot see what people are objecting to, then you can't understand some of the plainest English I have read on the BBC website.

    I think I understand it - it makes no sense. People ranting about the messenger, demanding Uganda change its ways, but not suggesting how this might happen. Just emotive dribbling.

    I don't think anyone is surprised that some people have extreme and murderous views about homosexual men and women. The surprise and disappointment is that in handling the story in the way it has chosen to do the BBC has appeared to legitimise the debate as to whether it is morally acceptable for the state to execute gay men and women for their sexuality.

    All debates are legitimate. Some answers might not be. Asking and answering questions should never be forbidded. I had thought that I'd grown up in a liberal democracy - the UK - but i'm starting to wonder, seeing as how so many people don't seem to grasp what liberalism actually means. Nor do they appear to set much store by democracy. IR democracy appears to be okay so long as people only vote for stuff we approve of.

    Here's a thought; maybe what the BBC thought it was doing was providing a forum where both sides of the argument could be put, and possibly minds might be changed? In actual fact I don't think it did this very well - but mainly because it then merrily deleted most of the views you lot would dissaprove of. Hard to have a debate when only one side is allowed to speak.



  • Comment number 96.

    In your House Rules you say:

    Do not post messages that are unlawful, harassing, defamatory, abusive, threatening, harmful, obscene, profane, sexually oriented, homophobic or racially offensive.

    How come you did not follow your own rules when deciding the title for the debate?

    I felt personally offended. This is not only regarding the ugandian situation. This regards all of the gay people everywhere in the world.

    I am not going to make any other example of other titles that would have been considered outrageous by everybody.
    I think that the title was blatantly unacceptable and no serious excuse can serve your cause.
    BBC should just unreservedly apologise to the gay community.

  • Comment number 97.

    BBC raised an important topic that created interesting and some disturbing responses. Some of the responses point to reasons why democracy has failed to take root in most of Africa. The failure to recognize the rights of people whose ideas may not align with your own. Uganda, aided by some right-wing American Christians is regressing towards ancient irrational beliefs, regrettably.

  • Comment number 98.

    Should Black people be executed?
    Was Hitler right about the Jews?
    Is Islam evil?
    Should adulterous women be stoned to death?
    Should handicapped people face euthanasia?
    I agree that these are stark and challenging question, but think that it accurately focuses on and illustrates the real issue at stake - namely that some people agree with these viewpoints.
    Where are the debates about the questions I ask above?
    Or is the BBC engaging in their institutionally homophobic double standards?
    Why should a gay person have to pay a TV license fee to the BBC, if the BBC thinks a debate about whether that person deserves to live or not is acceptable?

  • Comment number 99.

    the bbc has written this artical in an awful way, it is nobody's buiness except concenting adults.

  • Comment number 100.

    I think the question asked on this subject is way too ambiguous, because it is not focused on the real subject, that is "a bill proposing to make gay activities punishable by death in Uganda" be illegal or not; it makes you think on a wider spectrum, by answering whether killing because of their sexual condition is right or wrong. I believe that, under this criteria, most people would not say that sexual condition is by its own means, the source of the problem, nor a aggravating on the punishment sentence.
    Homosexuality is not a crime, it does not stand by itself as a threat for the citizens. Which should be the difference between a straight rapist and a gay rapist? Trauma and pain are equal to their victims, no matter who or how they harmed you.
    The problem here is a society that thinks that are able to "tolerate more" a crime, depending on who commits it, and their sexual orientation. That reflects a naive way of dealing taboo issues in a society, by assuming that those who are different from the rest should be neglected, intimidated and even punished.

 

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