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Response to Africa Have Your Say's homosexual bill debate

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Dave Lee | 19:18 UK time, Wednesday, 16 December 2009

A debate posted earlier today on the BBC's Africa Have Your Say online section has caused controversy across the internet.

You can listen to the radio show by clicking here.

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.

You can listen to the radio show by clicking here.

More coverage about the bill from BBC World Service:

Outlook: Homosexuality in Uganda (2 December, 2009)
Uganda considers new anti-gay law (16 October, 2009)

Over To You is your chance to have your say about the BBC World Service and its programmes. It airs at 10:40 and 23:40 every Saturday, and at 02:40 on Sunday (GMT). 


  • Comment number 1.

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

  • Comment number 2.

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

  • Comment number 3.

    I find it particularly appalling that the editors considered whether the question of genocide was appropriate for discussion and concluded that it was. That a deliberative process should to such an execrable outcome signifies that the editors are unfit to continue in service to the taxpayers of the UK. A failure to take action in response to this outrage would make the Director General complicit in the legitimization of genocide.

  • Comment number 4.

    Well, if the Ugandans vote for this law, an act of genocide, what will the UN have to say, if anything? What will the African Union have to say?

    The Commonwealth? The fourteen points of the 1971 Singapore Declaration dedicated all members to the principles of world peace, liberty, human rights, equality, and free trade.

    Uganda has enough problems without looking for more. May I suggest poverty and the conflicts with the likes of Joseph Kony may be something of more importance? Or is this debate an awful distraction?

    I for one, will not return to contribute to their economy - Uganda makes quite a bit of money from tourism and looked as though it was planning to expand this sector. I can see this source of income suffer greatly as a result.

  • Comment number 5.

    Considering Homosexuality is neither immoral or fundamentally wrong, this entire subject is simply absurd. Uganda, it's time for you to get out of the Dark Ages and join the 21st century.

  • Comment number 6.

    utterly appalled that this question can even be breached. how about can
    all "pommies, jews, blacks, roma" be killed. the question is totally
    and utterly obscene. period. u should be ashamed. but i have seen this
    type of tripe on the bbc often. your lack of taste and propriety is self
    evident. what other wonderful questions can u ask? should all red headed
    scotish people be eliminated from the gene pool?

  • Comment number 7.

    I cannot see the point in attacking the bbc for what is a debate on the current topic of `uganda considering the death penalty for homosexuals` Uganda have raised the issue, and the bbc reports worldwide news.Seems some hypocrites dont want free speech, I believe in free speech, and being open and honest. There is too much politically correct rubbish spouted. Another totally abused haven, is `human rights` a fantastic idea on paper, but unfortunately is now abused by minorities to get their own way. Congratulations to the bbc for being open, honest and fair. It is nice to have a debate without the homosexual community screaming that everyone is `homophobic`. A word which all straight people are sick of hearing.

  • Comment number 8.

    This does,nt suprise me,i think it could,ve been worded better.
    I mean if you said should all black people or religious groups should be executed it would be a different matter, meaning gay and Transgender people still are,nt taken seriously Quote, "we,re a minority" is all i seam to hear,no we,re are human beings and deserve the same rights as hetrosexuals,i pay my taxes like anybody else.
    You only have to look on Tv to see the lack of advertising aimed at gay and Transgender people there is,nt any!
    Come on government its time to act.
    Religion is the main culprit in this as usual,there needs to be a law against relgious groups discriminating against the gay and Transgender community,plus more ecucation not only for children adults too!

  • Comment number 9.

    Peter if only the shoe was on the other foot! its very easy for a hetrosexual person to call us a minority,
    were you ever teased bullied because of your sexualty?
    did you choose to be hetrosexual? i did,t choose to be gay like many millions did,nt,imagine being in uganda or Jamaica which is also a very homophobic country,amongst others, you would have to hide your sexuallity,this is the reallity.you should go through a few gay magazines news letters,
    there are articles in there which report from allover the world about the constant dicrimination people go through because of their sexuallity,these articles very rarely seem to make it into the national newspapers,you cant change your sexuallity as much as you cant change the colour of your skin.

  • Comment number 10.

    The homosexual community are always whinging about discrimination. Why dont they just leave ordinary people alone and get on with their lives. When I was growing up it was illegal, and meant a prison sentence. Nowadays people say this is the 21st century.But a lot of people believe homosexuality is fundamentally wrong. That is not a religious view, but a moral one. Obviously Uganda views the homosexuality issue as much more serious than the uk. Hence the possible death sentence, but surely worldwide opinion will change that stance.

  • Comment number 11.

    I am COMPLETELY DISTURBED that BBC is allowing this question to be asked on it's website!!!!!!!
    I was a daily visitor to your site and am now deleting the bookmark.

    I have a question though...

    Should BBC Employees face execution?
    just go ahead and discuss that now.

  • Comment number 12.

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

  • Comment number 13.

    If you replace the word homosexual with any other group of people, you will find that this question is abominable, horrific and evil. How dare you!

  • Comment number 14.

    I posted comment #12 earlier today and it was posted, now I find that it has been referred to the moderators. I guess someone took offence to my comments about it being an obomination and my references to politcal correctness and what God did to Sodom and Gomorrah for the same kind of perversion (homosexuality). Yep, in the UK just as in Texas/US, people are pretty much the same. They don't want an honest opinion, it has to be shaped and molded to what the "politcally correct" thing is to say. A pity, I thought the BBC might be different and would allow an honest, open discussion... I guess I was wrong. You're more controlling that Fox News.

  • Comment number 15.

    Must say I was disappointed to see that moderators removed post #12 as I thought that this was an open debate. The fact that it was removed is denying him his view. His view was not in my opinion offensive in any way but was his belief. I think that the removal says far more about whoever complained about it than the author. It proves that the homosexual community want debates but only on their terms. yet again the minority view.

  • Comment number 16.

    I'm shocked by this discussion that advocates homophobia, you should be ashamed. It is sickening to read some reviews on this site, the BBC has already been accused of homophobia, but it continues its excesses. It's just sad ...

    Ouganda is truly a country of sick, they regress the world and would replace Hitler. What God accepts such discrimmination? None. Homophobia is a heinous crime that must be condemned.

  • Comment number 17.

    Suppose you'd asked 'Is it morally acceptable for a sovereign Government to pass laws which would apply the death penalty to homosexuals?' Not as catchy, I admit, but it raises all the debates without implying that the BBC thinks it's open to question whether homosexuals have a right to exist. Instead it implies that the BBC thinks it's open to question whether their are checks on what a democratic government can do to its own citizens, or what a majority can impose on a minority.

    Or you might have asked: 'Have westerners any right to interfere with an African Govt which is going to pass laws... etc?' Now it's our outrage that is questioned. Seems like another very good question.

    Since the BBC team thought 'long and hard', you presumably considered and rejected both of these options, and many others.

    Now do you understand why people are so offended? And will you say sorry properly and without all this mealy mouthed self-defense?

    And while you're at it, if you're so keen to raise awareness of what's going on in Uganda (as you should be), could you stop doing it through sensationalist Have Your Say threads and instead:
    - run stories on TV news, as you did for e.g. Mugabe's treatment of white farmers
    - start putting stories about the law on the front page of your website

    I've known about what's going on in Uganda for a while now, but only thanks to the social media of which Peter Horrocks seemed rather dismissive on News Hour.

  • Comment number 18.

    Comment 16. What a load of crap. Yet again the old chestnut, `homophobia`. The most overused word in the world. Just because people speak the truth he accuses them of replacing Hitler. He also says `what god accepts such discrimination`? He has obviously never read the Bible. The homosexual community is in denial. Why dont they stop seeking something that can never be obtained, acceptance.

  • Comment number 19.

    Well done BBC for bringing this to light in a responsible fashion with an open debate.

    I think it's clear to any reasonably-minded human being, that such legislation would be a massive violation of human rights and according to international law, the UN would be obligated to act to intervene should such genocide take place. Fingers crossed they won’t try to weasel out of it like they did with the Rwandan genocide, sitting by whilst millions die because they don’t want to get involved.

    The absurdity of some of the comments here has left me disappointed in the British people. No, it wouldn’t be right for you to organise a “straight pride” parade because heterosexuality has never been legislated against with capital punishment. Heterosexuals have never been abused physically and verbally for displays of affection between couples in public. Heterosexuals have never had to live in fear because of the gender of the person they are in love with. Heterosexuals are not tasked with the uphill struggle of trying to get society to accept them for simply being heterosexual.

    Sadly, it looks like there is still some work to be done on our own turf to change the backwards way of thinking that some members of the British public still hold.

  • Comment number 20.

    To Peter, post # 15: Thanks for the support, about my comment #12 being removed, it is appreciated. The best to you and yours at this time of the year. Thanks, Cactus Tom

  • Comment number 21.

    But I note that the English are so stupid as Uganda. Your religion is a dangerous sect, religion parasite the happiness and create discrimminations. One of the biggest victims of religions is the homosexuality. I am French and in my country your repugnant opinions and ideas offend. You still consider that gays are inferior to heterosexuality, but it's false! Who are you to deprive us of our rights? Conversely homophobes should be sentenced to death, in that event there will not be many English...

  • Comment number 22.

    Post 21. This comment mantions `religion is a dangerous sect` what a pathetic comment. He says that homosexuality is a victim of religion. Does he think that religion has nothing better to worry about than homosexuality. He flatters himself and his way of life. `Homophobes should be sentenced to death` Very extreme views seem to be your speciality. But I dont think that your comments do anything other than inflame the situation. It seems to me that if anyone questions the homosexual way of life by debate, they claim `homophobia` as they cannot stand criticism. POST 20. cactustom,from the lone star state. Have a great xmas.

  • Comment number 23.

    The killing of homosexuals is completely wrong. To take any innocent life is wrong. Surely a world of unity, where homosexuality is accepted into society is right?
    The bill is an embarrassment to Uganda and anyone who indoctrinates others to be anti-homosexual should feel ashamed.

  • Comment number 24.

    I would say sexuality is a private issue. I disagree with the fact that the BBC debate - in particular your question of debate - thinks about it in a white-and-black scheme of thinking. In fact, this issue is not so easy as you want to make us think: There are bisexual people, men and women that have firstly been heterosexual and are now discovering - after being married for 30 years or so - that they are bisexual or homosexual. Apart from that, sexuality itself is not closely connected with the moral quality of a person, this is irrational just thinking that the religious belief of a person - Jew, Christ, Muslim - is in itself good or bad. Anyway, such collective views are totally wrong. I would not say all Germans, British, French are ... sorry, no sense!
    You at the BBC demand at your own "house rules" that sexual discrimination is not allowed, namely "homophobic" remarks. You are just violating your own ethical standards and ambitions, that is simply absurd!

  • Comment number 25.

    Peter, in post 10 you said "Nowadays people say this is the 21st century.But a lot of people believe homosexuality is fundamentally wrong."

    Those people need to get out of the Dark Ages.

  • Comment number 26.

    Re; comment 25. Does that mean that homosexuals do not believe in free speech?The fact that this is the 21st century has no bearing whatsoever on morality.The debate is about Uganda trying to impose capital punishment for homosexuals. The death sentence would be applied if the person involved was hiv and was a serial offender. This I would imagine is to avert the spread of hiv. In the uk it is illegal for a homosexual to give blood for the risk of hiv and spreading infection. I have seen comments from the homosexual community saying that this discrimination must be removed. What selfish individuals they are. Thankfully the restriction will stay in place for our protection.

  • Comment number 27.

    Comment 26/Peter:
    One gets the impression that spreading out HIV is an exclusively problem of gays. In fact, there are about a half infection of heterosexuals.
    The basic problem is that this discussion is on the ground of prejudice and irrational fears. How do you know someone is homosexual? Uganda gets only the openly gays. What about the gays that hide their sexuality?
    Peter talks of "our" protection, so this is wrong. So what are the reasons for the punishment, even the death sentence?
    Nazis also sent homosexuals to concentration camps in order to kill them. This is awful!

  • Comment number 28.

    Peter, you said-

    "Does that mean that homosexuals do not believe in free speech?"

    Of course we believe in free speech. We also have the freedom to disagree with bigots.

    "The fact that this is the 21st century has no bearing whatsoever on morality."

    It most certainly does have bearing on morality. In case you hadn't noticed, the majority of the developed worlds do not allow women to be stoned to death for having sex outside of marriage (merely an example) Why do you think this is?

    "The death sentence would be applied if the person involved was hiv and was a serial offender."

    Getting HIV is not a death sentence.

    "In the uk it is illegal for a homosexual to give blood for the risk of hiv and spreading infection."

    Actually, a homosexual can still give blood. All he/she must do is simply not tell anyone that he/she is a homosexual. It's very easy to get around such a silly law.

    "What selfish individuals they are. Thankfully the restriction will stay in place for our protection."

    Not even close to being selfish. And the restriction doesn't even work because a homosexual can still get around it and give blood anyways.
    It's not protecting you, considering heterosexuals can also get HIV and also give blood by getting around the restriction.

  • Comment number 29.

    I see that my comment 1 has been removed, which is very sad and just goes to show that the homosexual community are afraid of the truth. It is actions like this that sets their cause back. They call anyone that tells the truth as `homophobic` or a `bigot`. In reality they are the most bigoted prejudcial people. The bbc has also failed in its neutrality, if the bbc did not want peoples honest opinions then why have the debate. The comments were offensive to nobody, unless they were either guilty or paranoid.

  • Comment number 30.

    The issue of homosexuality has been with us for generations. I personally do not condone this kind of behaviour. I believe it is abnormal and against the principles of the bible and against nature. If the bible is our moral yard stick of measurement then we have to look at what the bible says. It condemns it in no uncertain terms. On the other hand since this is immoral behaviour we have to see adultery as immoral too. What would happen if the young generation decides to become homosexual and lesbian no children would be born. I believe that if the Ugandan government wants to take the moral highroad it will have to look into adultery because the same God who condemns homosexuality condemns adultery too. The difference between homosexuality and adultery is that one is a same sex union whilst the other is a heretorosexual union albeit illicit and immmoral. The bible is my standard of moral measurement and it says..WOE TO THOSE WHO CALL EVIL GOOD AND GOOD EVIL. . I believe the threat of death and imprisonment may deter these people from soliciting young people. I am not convinced yet that the Ugandan government will follow through with its plans. Only time will tell.

  • Comment number 31.

    Given the way the BBC chose to frame this debate (effectively legitimizing Ugandan fascism), it seems only right to pose the philosophical question, should members of the BBC be executed?

  • Comment number 32.

    David Stead should be fired immediately.

  • Comment number 33.

    I am appaled that so many people are narrow-minded. I am also appaled that some of you claim that all LGBT community does is scream "Homophobe" and that we only want a debate on our terms. An open debate is welcome and I, for one, would LOVE to see what these posts said before ther had been blocked. Something you who follow the bible should realize also. In the Empire which your so loved book was created, homsexuality was a part of daily life. Many homosexual couples were around and many a citizen took place in orgies throughout Rome. It was not until the Church began to take over for the government that homosexuals and even women were demonized. Those of you who hide behind words you don't understand or books from the past are pathetic and use arguements of others to fight your battles. Create your own opinions for once and learn ALL you cna about a situation before going in, guns blazing, about how evil some people are.

  • Comment number 34.

    Peter, do you not realize that they screen ALL blood recieved TWICE with extremely accurate tests for HIV? It's selfish to stop the blood of millions from helping people because some of them have a disease. So close-minded.

  • Comment number 35.

    First of all, none of this matters. The Penal Code in former BRITISH colonies reflects the 'victorian values' the fact that homosexuality remained illegal in part of Britain into the 1980s, long after these countries became independent (1960 to 1964, Rhodesia breaking away in 1965).

    The truth is that the application of these laws is a test for the (post-independence) Malawian Constitution, which guarantees freedom from discrimination through Article 21, and specifically bans discrimination based on sex.

    And another thing - you do not find these laws in non-British colonies in Africa. This is not an African or Christian value. The DRC is no less African than Uganda or Malawi, nor were the Belgians and the French any less Christian than the British. But you find these laws in Uganda, Malawi, South Africa (pre-1994), not in the DRC, Congo-Brazzaville, or Rwanda.


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