Response to Africa Have Your Say's homosexual bill debate
A debate posted earlier today on the BBC's Africa Have Your Say online section has caused controversy across the internet.
David Stead, the programme's editor, explains the decision:
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.
David Stead is Editor of Africa Have Your Say.
More coverage about the bill from BBC World Service: