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Africa debate

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Peter Horrocks Peter Horrocks | 14:10 UK time, Thursday, 17 December 2009

You might have read some of the coverage about a World Service Africa Have Your Say debate yesterday, or my colleague David Stead's blog post about it last night.

The original headline on our website was, in hindsight, too stark. We apologise for any offence it caused. But it's important that this does not detract from what is a crucial debate for Africans and the international community.

The programme was a legitimate and responsible attempt to support a challenging discussion about proposed legislation that advocates the death penalty for those who undertake certain homosexual activities in Uganda - an important issue where the BBC can provide a platform for debate that otherwise would not exist across the continent and beyond.

Peter Horrocks is the director of BBC World Service.


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  • Comment number 1.

    Don't apologise for offending the easily offended.

    That offends me.

    I demand an apology.

  • Comment number 2.

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

  • Comment number 3.

    This indeed was a legitimate discussion about human rights brought up by the BBC; and it is the contributor's responsibility to see it in that light. I believe this discussion should be taken to a wider forum and Uganda pressured by donors and international organizations to throw out this bill. If Uganda goes ahead with this it might be a dangerous precedent as other African countries might follow.

  • Comment number 4.

    Thank you for providing some acknowledgement that what happened yesterday was wrong.

    Setting aside the question asked, it makes me wonder why the BBC has talking points specifically intended for anyone outside the UK. It seems to me that BBC is here serve the UK license fee payer.

    I understand the purpose of BBC World, in terms of providing a service for promoting the UK overseas, generating income which pays - at least in part - for the presence of UK news teams around the world, providing an alternative to other countries' news channels, etc. But I think that having a specific service for Africa is simply beyond the BBC's remit.

    The explanation "an important issue where the BBC can provide a platform for debate that otherwise would not exist across the continent and beyond" is a declared purpose concerns me... I think that such responsibilities are jobs for others.

    There's every reason to discuss international events, including legislation which would add Uganda to the countries already executing gay men and women. And it's great that people from around the world can contribute to BBC's "Have Your Say" forums. But there should be one web site available to all, one "Have Your Say" viewed in the same way around the world. The rest is an ambition outside the BBC's legitimate remit and as we've seen, can lead to editorial conflict.

  • Comment number 5.

    "The programme was a legitimate and responsible attempt to support a challenging discussion about proposed legislation that advocates the death penalty for those who undertake certain homosexual activities in Uganda - an important issue where the BBC can provide a platform for debate that otherwise would not exist across the continent and beyond."

    It certainly was not and I am sorry if you feel that this was the case.

    Whilst it is something that NEEDS to be challenged, debated and raised awareness of - I feel that the BBC has done itself a HUGE dis-service towards the LGBT Community and as such, I feel that we should no longer be expected to contribute to your coffers and pay for a service that doesn't particularly cater for the LGBT community as a whole.

  • Comment number 6.

    So the BBC still does not accept that a debate about whether mass murder of a minority population is unacceptable? The proposed new law in Uganda is of course a suitable subject for debate; but to invite and publish the most vicious incitement to hatred is an epic failure on the part of the BBC and a murderous breach of impartiality. You are heaping offence on offence by refusing to acknowledge how wrong this debate was and how awfully the fallout has been handled. I think we can safely say without a shadow of a doubt that the BBC is institutionally homophobic. Why should I as a gay man pay a TV license fee to an organisation which considers my life as a suitable subject for debate. Shame on you BBC.

  • Comment number 7.

    Thank you for the apology. I (sorry to FrankFisher for this) am not easily offended but, like many others, was deeply disturbed by the phrasing of this question. I also think there is a lot of scope for the BBC World Service to do some insightful programming into the issue of homosexuality in Afria - you have both Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu declaring it to be a natural and traditional part of African life and you have a strong tradition of homosexuality in Islam (particularly in North and East Africa. There is also scope for thorough investigations into the targeting of African people by the more right-wing fundamentalist Christian evangelicals from the US and UK. The issue of homosexuality in Africa absolutely deserves debate and the BBC can lead on this but not through crass populist Have your Say "debates" on the website but through proper investigative journalism.

  • Comment number 8.

    "The programme was a legitimate and responsible attempt to support a challenging discussion"
    No it was not - as the premise of the question asked suggested that there may be a legitimate case to execute gay people for the 'crime' of being gay. It's been asked before but it needs to be asked again. When is the BBC going to hold a Have Your Say debate on its Arabic service called "Should Jews face execution?' Would such a debate be a legitimate and responsible attempt to support a challenging discussion? If not then why the homophobic double standard?

  • Comment number 9.

    I'm glad there has been an apology for the question, but as, I think, the person who first put it on twitter (via a work account), I'm somewhat annoyed by the suggestion over at The Guardian made by Peter Horrocks that it was people who were viewing the question out of context that made everyone angry. It seems to have been implied that when seen in context it all is fine. The spread of it through twitter made people aware of it. Of course some people who just saw it out of context may have taken it like that, but the vast amount of people I spoke to yesterday, and certainly people who will have put enough effort in to bother complaining shouldn't be assumed to have not investigated the issue properly.

    The quote from the Guardian:

    "The main way in which people have responded to this is because the headline was extracted and circulated through social media and people responded to that. That is something quite new and its something we have to think quite carefully about, when things are taken out of context how do they seem."


  • Comment number 10.

    Andi Ye's point is the most interesing here and one that's been raised many thimes, though not in this context. *Why* does the BBC feel the need to engage with audiences outside the UK? Simplest answer is that it always has done - via the World Service - and it gets paid for doing so, via the govt. We of course subsidise this. But in this context the interesting angle is that values in the UK are wildly different to those across the world. Indeed, there's no consensus on much of this, even in the UK. But can't we remember that the BBC didn't provide "an answer", it posed a question. Yes, posing a question presupposes that there are differing answers but as we have seen, *there are*!

  • Comment number 11.

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

  • Comment number 12.

    The BBC invited a discussion on whether gays should be executed and Peter Horrocks defends this in his statement above as a "crucial debate". This implies of course that there are two, equal legitimate sides to this question. So I would like to pose my own question to the BBC: why do show such contempt towards gays and lesbians by entertaining a question as to whether I have a right to live or die? Why do deny me any sense of the common humanity you would surely offer to a religious or ethnic minority by never dare asking that same question? Why do you give a platform for homophobes to justify killing gays?
    If this were an isolated incident from the BBC then I might have more sympathy for the weak apology but it is not. Gays are beaten up and murdered every day all over the world. One in five gay people in the UK suffer homophobic attacks. As the fists and boots rain down on victims they are taunted with the very words you saw fit to publish on this comments page.
    DJ Chris Moyles is found in breach of the broadcasting code by Ofcom after ridiculing Will Young in a high pitch, effeminate voice. Jonathan Ross jokes that children who appear to be gay should be adopted before they bring their "partner" home. Why is it socially acceptable to joke about gay sexuality but not a person’s colour or religeon? The BBC fails to confirm any disciplinary action against Moyles while touting its commitment to an honest and accurate reflection of gay and lesbians. An “honest and accurate reflection” that manifests itself in only one visible version of gay men: the camp stereotypes. Graham Norton, Alan Carr, Dale Winton, Little Britain, Catherine Tate’s self loathing Derek Faye – all cut from the same effeminate cloth which research shows is five times more likely to be negative portrayals then positive ones. As for lesbians, don’t even bother looking.
    The BBC reflects very poor value for it's gay and lesbian contributors and has acted here in clear breach of it's impartiality. Shame on you.

  • Comment number 13.

    it was people who were viewing the question out of context that made everyone angry.

    Oh of course it was! 140 characters *didn't* convey the context. All twitter seems to be good for is making mountains out of molehills.

  • Comment number 14.


    I am not from the Africa Continent and, I think that you are
    doing the just thing and, apology for what is happening....

    =Dennis Junior=

  • Comment number 15.

    Peter Horrocks said "The original headline on our website was, in hindsight, too stark. We apologise for any offence it caused."

    I think there's some wilful misunderstanding going on here. While it's good to have a belated apology for the original headline, it doesn't begin to resolve the situation.

    OK, the headline on the discussion page was changed - but not on other parts of the BBC site, and the headline was even more offensive out of context.
    The pre-moderated original discussion was then retro-moderated as well - it rather looked as though posts had originally been let through that were in clear breach of House Rules and UK law in a misguided attempt either to whip up controversy or as a result of a fundamental misunderstanding of "balance" and "impartiality".

    Saying "sorry" is not enough: if the BBC is to regain the confidence of those of us who are gay (and who have been actively campaigning on the issue of the Ugandan law for some time) it must show that it fully understands how grossly offensive the headline was, and that the BBC is taking some effective steps to remedy both the appalling lack of awareness and the utterly inept moderation that its behaviour on this topic has demonstrated.

    Yes - I have submitted a formal complaint under the complaints procedure, and I will follow up until such time as the BBC recognises the need to take active steps to ensure that it recognises and embraces the diversity of people who use it.

  • Comment number 16.

    The headline and debate were both perfectly appropriate. It needs to be very clear that this is exactly what the Ugandan parliament is debating; worse yet, a similar measure is being mooted by Gambia's dictator.

    People shouldn't be offended by the headline, they should be offended by the legislation!

  • Comment number 17.

    This apology is appropriate. Unfortunately, it is rendered basically insincere and meaningless when viewed in broader context.

    Mr. Horrocks has been quoted elsewhere as saying it is important that Uganda's "kill the gays" bill be covered "fairly and impartially." That comment discloses a breathtaking indifference toward gays and lesbians.

    Did the BBC "fairly and impartially" canvass the arguments for and against the Rwandan genocide? What, Mr. Horrocks, were the arguments in favor of that genocide? How about genocide in Darfur? And did the BBC "fairly and impartially" evaluate the merits of slaughtering Bosnians to create a Greater Serbia? How about Jews? Should the BBC have "fairly and impartially" considered the arguments in favor of rounding up and gassing all the Jews in Germany? Should the BBC have given "fair" and "impartial" consideration to the bigotry that Jews were in fact responsible for every ill befalling Germany in the 1930s? How, exactly, Mr. Horrocks, does one "fairly and impartially" cover a proposed genocide? What are the journalistic standards for that?

    How is it that when gay people are the subjects of proposed genocide it is suddenly an open question--requiring "fair" and "impartial" discussion--whether the group of people should, indeed, be rounded up and murdered by the state? What bizarre homophobic blindspot has so impaired Mr. Horrocks' perspective that he feels some compulsion to give journalistic legitimacy to the assorted ignorances and bigotries behind this proposed genocide?

    It wasn't just a matter of the phrasing of the question. The deeper problem is apparently Mr. Horrocks astounding indifference to genocide involving gay people.

  • Comment number 18.

    It's not a "crucial debate", debating about killing homosexuals legaimiste it , Would bbc ask if Hitler was right about the jews and if the genocide of jewish people was justifed?

  • Comment number 19.

    You are truly dreadful at making apologies.

    Don't apologise "for any offence caused", apologise for posting the piece in the first place.

    You clearly haven't understood the issue here. You are still suggesting that this is a legitimate debate, that you are required to provide a platform for those who oppose genocide and those who believe in genocide. What sort of amoral nonsense is that?

    This is not "a challenging discussion" in Africa, it is an assault on real lives, a grotesque plan to perpetrate crimes against humanity. And you place it as some 'challenging' discussion.

    What the hell are you talking about?

  • Comment number 20.

    And one more thing, it wasn't just the headline, so stop pretending it was. How patronising of you to suggest people only saw the headline and didn't read the text on the page.

  • Comment number 21.

    Don’t waste time apologising for ‘offence caused’, Mr Horrocks. My 'hurt feelings' are nothing compared to the real danger of of living in fear of Iraq's Shia death-squads, or Jamaican lynching gangs.

    By inviting a discussion on whether gays should be executed, the BBC surrenders to mob-rule and fans the flames of homophobic hatred, at a time when the safety of lesbians and gays is under threat as never before.

    I thought the BBC’s commitment to impartiality was ‘central to its contract with the audience’? Isn’t one of the important points about being impartial, to reach a judgment that is consistent with what the experts think on the matter?

    An impartial journalist has to act like the counsel for the defence and the prosecution in a court, instructing the jury.

    That is why anyone holding a discussion on homosexuality has a moral obligation to inform readers that there is no ground for controversy in the first place. To inform readers, that all medical, psychological, sociological and psychiatric experts are crystal clear that homosexuality is a natural, neutral, harmless way by which a small proportion of the population expresses love. Any ‘controversy’ about homosexuality was buried by the experts, 40 years ago.

    Armed with this information, almost all readers can see that even a debate on whether homosexuality was ‘wrong’, is inappropriate. But by posing such a murderously stupid question that asks whether gays should be executed, timidly juxtaposed with another non-question, ‘has Uganda gone too far?’ the BBC breaks its impartiality code utterly.

    For the reader is not merely instructed to debate WHETHER a discussion should be had about homosexuality. The question treats the immorality of homosexuality as a foregone conclusion, and invites a discussion on the EXTENT to which homosexuality is immoral or criminal. Incredibly, it even implies that a debate about the execution of gay people had two equal, legitimate sides.

    To excuse this by saying "we have sought to moderate these (comments) rigorously while at the same time trying to reflect the varied and hugely diverse views about homosexuality in Africa," is outrageous white noise.

    Could anyone in their right mind imagine reflecting the ‘hugely diverse views’ about topics such as: ‘Should Jews be sent to gas chambers?’ or ‘should unveiled girls have acid thrown in their faces in Karachi?’; ‘Should disabled people be euthanised?’; ‘Should slavery be reintroduced?’ I hope I don't need to even answer that, though judging by the 'pre-moderated comments' (even from English people!) gleefully looking forward to an Iranian-style state-sanctioned murder of gay people, I begin to wonder whether some consider these serious discusion points as well.

    The BBC is just as guilty of racism as it is of homophobia, as you were at pains to stress the debate appeared on the BBC’s Have Your Say ‘Africa’ webpage, as if geography should somehow exonerate those responsible. Does Mr Stead and the Corporation think that people from this continent are unable to grasp the concept of human rights? Does the BBC think that human rights is some kind of optional hobby for a few Western states?

    The BBC has a moral duty to enlighten its audiences, especially in countries where, due to poor education and rising religious fundamentalism, violence against sexual minorities, is on the rise in frequency and brutality. Instead, by endorsing such a debate, and treating incitement to murder as valid opinion, the BBC surrenders to ignorance and mob rule. How ironic for a Corporation, whose motto is 'Nation Shall Speak Peace Unto Nation'.

    What I want to know from you and Mr Stead is: what are you doing to educate people about homosexuality? At the very least, you could have provided links on the web page, for instance to the position on sexual orientation taken by the American Psychological Association, or the major advances in research over the last 4 years by geneticists. What is your corporation doing to combat anti-gay prejudice and ignorance Mr Horrocks? There is no dedicated programme for LGBT listeners and viewers anywhere on the BBC. Give us some real commitments instead of half-baked, insincere apologies.

  • Comment number 22.

    I subscribed to BBC World on cable television in Singapore and read BBC news online almost daily because I believed it is a reliable news sources. A news agency that provides high quality of news reporting. I just created this BBC ID to post my comment here and the first thing I read was the house rules which includes no homophobic comment allowed.

    You have no idea how much I relied on BBC because most of the time, gay individuals like me do not get news on LGBTQ communities around the world in Singapore's heavily censored media.

    While I am totally disgusted and helpless with Ugandan government's decision, I am more shocked with your editor's decision to conduct a debate and use such a tasteless and unacceptable title. BBC might think it got a lot of people to sit up and react strongly, it need to recognise that it is most disrespectful to a fellow human being and totally unnecessary to debate if one deserves to die just because he is different.

    All of us are familiar with how Holocaust or Rwandan massacre happened, these tragedies did not happen overnight but years of poisonous propaganda prepared the ground for them. Your editor might think it is a one off mistake but it could have added energy to what are already happening around the world.

    Thank you for your apology but please remember to catch yourself before more of these happen. A angry subscriber can always terminate his subscription but a misinformed one can do a lot of harm.

  • Comment number 23.

    Well done Adrian Tippetts. Excellent response.

  • Comment number 24.

    I will follow up until such time as the BBC recognises the need to take active steps to ensure that it recognises and embraces the diversity of people who use it.

    Well then I hope it also recognises that a lot of us would prefer news and comment to be delivered without first passing through a vetoing committee of hysterical twitterers.

    BTW, I'm seeing a lot of identical phrases and terminology here - fellers, you may want to read articles on this other than Peter Tatchell's and the Pink Paper. All getting a bit samey y'know?

  • Comment number 25.

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

  • Comment number 26.

    Well - there you have the cream of the BBC attempting to justify a thoroughly nasty episode in its history.

    This so-called 'legitimate discussion' was more in keeping with the BNP than the BBC.

    Arrogance and irresponsibility is the trademark of the management at the BBC and although a public apology over this disgraceful HYC should be immediate - I doubt we shall see it.

    I think the BBC has lost a HUGE amount of credibility and respect over this.

  • Comment number 27.

    You may very well apologise for 'any offence cause' but it would be far more helpful if those who generate your content, presumably having plenty of editorial and production guidelines, were able to demonstrate an understanding of those policies.

    This is the BBC not some backwater pirate radio channel. It beggars belief that anybody with a background in serious journalism couldn't have seen the potential for our anger.

    As many have already said that fact that the LGBT community finds itself framed in a "Is it ok to kill homosexuals" debate is tragically laughable.

    Why do other debates not get framed in this way?

    If the BBC really need us to explain why the original wording of the content was a serious problem then, really, maybe some retraining needs to be engaged in?

  • Comment number 28.

    I think any issue that is controversial and evokes reaction should be debated whether moral, religious or anything else. In my view, the BBC has not done anything wrong by providing a platform to sound people’s opinion about homosexuality and the steps taken to criminalize it in Uganda, Just as it did about women’s right as traditional rules in Sierra Leone. why is it an issue?

  • Comment number 29.

    "Should Jews Face Execution?"

    That headline is not valid however much verbiage is placed around it. It does not create debate except to raise the topic of executing Jews. It fails any test of reasonableness.

    "Should Muslims face execution?"

    Is that any better? It doesn't matter of there s context or not, the headline is appalling.

    "Should unmarried mothers be compulsorily sterilised?"

    Is that getting better or worse?

    Each of those headlines, with or without text, if deployed in any new organ would create immediate censure of that organisation. Each of those headlines would have occasioned an immediate public retraction and full apology for offence given.

    It is unimportant whether people think that the underlying issues should be discussed. The headline alone is sufficient to bias any discussion and polarise it.

    On that basis I have used the BBC's formal complaints procedure and issued a complaint which I will pursue as far as necessary. The headline was inflammatory and conceivably an incitement to discrimination.

  • Comment number 30.

    The apology won't do, but sadly, Mr Horrocks, you're so mired in the BBC management culture that all you can do is trot out cliches about 'causing offence' and a 'challenging discussion'. Just try listening to yourself for once if you won't listen properly to your readers.

  • Comment number 31.

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

  • Comment number 32.

    Out of curiosity - who allowed the 'stark' headline to appear on the website? Who allowed the readers' comments which supported genocide against gay people to appear? Who retro-moderated the most extremist responses after the storm of protest broke? What disciplinary action is being taken against those BBC employeers responsible? And what is being done to ensure that the BBC NEVER again legitimises a debate about the justifications for genocide against ANY minority group?

    This pathetic half-apology from Peter Horrocks is entirely inadequate and unacceptable. Then again I don't think any LGBT person in the UK has any faith left in the BBC to behave responsibly towards its gay audience.

    The refusal of the BBC to address the homophobia of its presenters and its own institutional homophobia is widely known - from their refusal to censure Chris Moyles for using the adjective 'gay' to mean 'rubbish'; to the presence of a group of gay men called '4 P***s and a Piano' being subjected to vulgar, inappropriate jokes about anal sex every week on the Jonathon Ross show; to the Ofcom report about Chris Moyles' homophobic behaviour towards singer Will Young; to Jeremy Clarkson using cockney rhyming slang for 'queer' to rubbish a car on Top Gear; to DJ Spoony ridiculing lesbians; to Jonathon Ross advising parent to give their male children up for adoption before they bring their 'partner' home. The list is endless.

    The BBC has failed to respond each and every time to concerns about homophobia. This debate about the death penalty for gays is the most serious breach of trust yet however. And typically the BBC is failing its LGBT license payers by refusing to accept responsibility for its mistakes.

  • Comment number 33.

    @ 28. BBC wasn't "sound[ing] people’s opinion about homosexuality." They were casually debating whether gay people should be rounded up by the state and eradicated. Big difference.

  • Comment number 34.

    Harrock you will be fired soon for your blanant vile homophobia

  • Comment number 35.

    What wil be interesting in due course is a Freedom of Information Act request to uncover the number of formal complaints about the headline, something I object to completely, and to set those into context against those who feel, as I do, that the topic requires serious and heavyweight debate.

    I doubt very much that people will say "The discussion about Uganda and its appalling proposed law should not take place", but I am certain from reading the many comments, here and elsewhere, that the BBC is acting in Ostrich mode, and hoping the firestorm will pass it by.

    Unfortunately it looks rather like a dish of roast Ostrich is being prepared for the table.

    So come on BBC, get your asbestos gloves on and handle this properly, and do it well. This lame justification politics game just doesn't wash. Yes, apologising is going to hurt.

    Take it on the chin.

    All you have done is diverted people from the real issue - that of pressurising Uganda to withdraw.

    Surely that was not your intention?

  • Comment number 36.

    I read someone wanted to put all the gay people on an island. With that train of thought, then put all the white people there, segregate the blacks, etc, the Jews, as so forth. The kill someone because they are different brings back thoughts of Hitler. I am amazed folks of moderate intelligence can not "see" this happening in our time. With the US electing a black president, I thought the world had put an end to this type of thought. I guess there are still areas where work is to be accomplished. Just imagine that you might be putting to death the person who might create a cure for a disease which you might get and there not be a cure.

  • Comment number 37.

    Black Health Agency works with African communities living in the UK providing support for those living with or affected by HIV / AIDS, often with people who have experienced severe bigotry and stigma in their home countries. We also deliver HIV Prevention and safer sex workshops to combat HIV transmission within the BME community. Black Health Agency strongly opposes any legislative action that prevents those living with HIV / AIDS, regardless of sexual orientation, from accessing support and treatment services nationally and internationally.

    Black Health Agency fervently believes that the proposed ‘anti-homosexuality’ bill in Uganda, which calls for the death penalty for acts of aggravated homosexuality, will compound problems around HIV, reduce access to condoms and will lead to rising levels of HIV infection. The bill is divisive, lends itself to misapplication and abuse, threatens the basic human rights of all Uganda’s citizens, and will be a tragic blow for those organisations working in the country.

    Uganda has been a model of how well HIV prevention can work in Africa and this work should not be undermined by draconian legislation. HIV prevention activities rely on an ability to talk frankly about sexuality, condoms and other safer-sex materials which, under the proposed bill’s prosecution for the ‘promotion of homosexuality’ clause will seriously compromise HIV sector NGOs. Failure to report known violations of the law places service providers in the untenable position of choosing between the confidentiality of a client or risking a prison sentence of up to three years. NGOs recognising gay rights may face ostracisation from other NGOS preventing the building of links with other groups working in HIV and sharing knowledge, contacts and information and best practice.

    In a country in which one million people are living with HIV, any legislation which will criminalise the sexual health organisations addressing HIV / AIDS will undermine the work that has so far proved highly effective in combating rising levels of new HIV infection.

    Black Health Agency exists to improve lives and change futures. We aim to challenge health inequalities and take positive action in favour of Black and Minority Ethnic, disadvantaged and other marginalised communities.

    For further information, please contact:

    Ben Easterbrook: Information, Resource and Monitoring Officer
    Black Health Agency, 464 Chester Road, Old Trafford, Manchester, M16 9HE, UK
    [Personal details removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 38.

    "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
    * Could break the law or condone or encourage unlawful activity.
    * Describe or encourage activities which could endanger the safety or well-being of others"

    I think it's pretty clear the headline question of "Should homosexuals be executed? Have your say! lolz"
    FAILS these BBC House Rules. Quite EPICALLY, in fact.

    But apparently it was only wrong in "hindsight".

  • Comment number 39.

    What is proposed in Uganda is an outrage. Surely any right thinking person can see that proposing mass murder is an outrage, and there can be no question that it is right. Putting it up for debate has given the worst of people the notion that maybe it could be right. Unbelievable!

    As exactly the kind of person that Uganda would murder if it got the chance, I'm not offended, so much as completely at a loss to explain how our national broadcaster could be so stupid as to ask the question of whether mass murder was acceptable.

    There was no risk that this debate would cause offence. No risk at all, it was absolutely inevitable that it would cause outrage and disgust. If the people responsible for this debate can't see that, they really are in the wrong jobs.

    My only hope is that the outrage the BBC has so recklessly drawn upon itself finds its way undiluted to our government, in order to get them to pressure Uganda to back down.

  • Comment number 40.

    If a nation does not want a certain group of people...and they won't leave quietly...then extermination is the only logical alternative...isn't this where we're headed with Socialism???

  • Comment number 41.

    It says here "Nation Shall Speak Peace Unto Nation". Do you recognise your own coat of arms?

    Maybe you don't realise that it wasn't just the headline that was incendiary. It was the fact that - in violation of your own blogging principles (which include: "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") - you gave an open invitation to homophobes of the world to speak a piece of their mind unto other nations and their own. Their nasty comments will have gone round the planet and been quoted by cranks and crackpots to suit their own ends.

    Enough of these mealy-mouthed fingers-crossed-behind-your-back apologies. You broadcast a sensational headline and instigated a debate which was irresponsible because it was predicated on the notion that to be gay is inherently to be criminal.

    Tomorrow is the first anniversary of the first United Nations declaration of gay rights (18 December 2008). No reasonable person could think that this edition of Have Your Say has hastened the day when that declaration is formally adopted as a UN Resolution.

  • Comment number 42.

    I am also not satisfied with this apology. Don't apologies for offence cause apologies because you realise you did something wrong.

    what is happening internally about this? Is a blog post your only response or will any work be done with the programme makers to explain why so many people were upset by this.

    I know it's a cliched point, but i think making the parallels to other minority groups is very important is it really highlights how offensive this article (pitched as a have your say debate) really was.

    I rarely complain, and do not complain as a result of a campaign - if a friend tells me they are upset by something i look it at and judge it myself. that's what i've done in this case.

    I too will take this further as i believe that the BBC Trust should look into the editorial judgements that were made here, and hope that the programme makers in any part of the BBC understand what went wrong and don't let it happen again.

    Stop hiding behind 'it's a twitter campaign' and accept that sometimes you may cross a line, and a lot of people will see that and be upset by that. Do something about it.

  • Comment number 43.

    I call on the government to cut all funding for the BBC World Service as its not fit for purpose.

    As a Gay man I do not want my tax money going on a homophobic BBC debate on my right to life. It was only 70 years ago the homosexuals where being sent to concentration camps in Nazi Germany and 40 years ago that being gay would land us in prison and chemically castrated. Add onto this the growing number of homophobic and transphobic murders and attacks in this country that never even seem to get reported on BBC news I call on the BBC to to take a long hard look at itself and its homophobia.

    I expect a real apology not the poor excuse I see above.

  • Comment number 44.

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

  • Comment number 45.

    Mr Horrocks,

    I've just listened to your interview on News Hour. You claim that this has been entirely a matter of people responding to a headline spread through social media and taken out of context. What is your factual basis for this claim? Yes, I was alerted to this blog by social media; but I then went and read the entire page, including the homophobic comments you saw fit to publish beneath it despite your own moderation rules.

    These are Daily Mail tactics: dodge the issue by making out that the people complaining are not properly informed.

    You got this profoundly and deeply wrong. A democractically elected government was gassing jews and homosexuals not so many decades ago. That does not feel that we have to accept the legitimacy of a debate about whether its right to do so. Balance has limits, and murder is clearly one of them.

    Your 'apology' merely compounds the insult. Utterly disgusting. I wish you could show the same level of empathy for the people who are paying your wages as you clearly feel for Ugandan would-be murderers.

  • Comment number 46.

    I'm also very annoyed that some complainants are apparently being dismissed as mindless airheads who don't count because they only saw the headline out of context on a social networking site. This is typical BBC I'm afriad.

    How ironic. I wonder how many saw the 'should homosexuals be executed?' headline out of context on the BBC's own website? Unless people clicked through they would have missed your 'context'.

    I submitted a complaint and can assure you that I saw the headline, debate and comments on the BBC website.

    Why does the BBC always have to put down people with this 'ah but we know best and many of them weren't real complaints anyway' attitude? Please just have the good grace to admit this was a disasterous mistake.

    Also I'd be very surprised if the 103 complaints is an accurate figure. In the BBC blog about HD picture quality several people say they complained yet the BBC claims it has only received one official complaint.

  • Comment number 47.

    Not good enough, sorry. Stop dismissing complainants and stop thinking you are right when you are just NOT.

    You're just making me lose more faith in your important service. Almost everybody absolutely understands the need to discuss the issue but you went about it in, as somebody mentioned, the inherently-Daily Mail way.

    I'm sick of it now. Stop screwing up in your attempts at sensationalism and pull people in with the brilliant journalism you are supposed to be famous for, not headlines with such "stark" (offensive) headlines.

    And by the way, it would not have been only social networks where people saw the headline "out of context" (not that I agree there was a context for such a crass headline) would have also seen it scattered around the BBC site. But, oh, wait, that was the point, wasn't it? Entice people in with the sensationalism.

    Backfired, didn't it?

  • Comment number 48.

    I invite everyone to look at the expressions on the faces of these gay prisoners in Sachsenhausen concentration camp:

    Photo from the US National Archives.

  • Comment number 49.

    Put simply: You don't "impartially" debate the relative merits of genocide.

  • Comment number 50.

    You still have no idea.

    Before making my complaints I read the initial article, not a snippet on Facebook, Twitter etc.
    It's clear that you have as little journalsitic integrity and ability as Jan Moir,

  • Comment number 51.

    This must be some warped joke! Apologize why? Because MP's expressed outrage people complained? Whom does the BBC serve the people or the government? The way is see it this is the day true journalism died, if folk at the BBC have to apologize for offending then there is something wrong , well many things offend but the world must know. All I can say is what a shame!

  • Comment number 52.


    Have you actually read what it is people are complaining about? There was no journalism, it was a forum asking if gays should be killed.

  • Comment number 53.

    Wow, BBC... just wow. I'm absolutely staggered. You have really outdone yourself here. I thought the Daily Mail was offensive - at least I am not legally obliged to pay a licence to keep the Daily Mail in circulation!

    I cannot believe that I am forced into paying a hundred odd pounds to the BBC every year, so that they can legitimise the viewpoint that I should be executed. And I can assure you, the majority of gay people will have read the headline 'should gay people be executed' as 'should I be executed'. I certainly did. It sent a shiver down my spine. This is NOT a valid debate. Make no mistake about that. Anyone who thinks otherwise would make good chums with Hitler.

    Then, to add insult to injury, we get this half baked, insincere apology. Not an aplogy for what was said, but 'for any offence caused'. ANYONE knows this isn't a real apology. Instead it comes off as blaming people for being oversensitive.

    The thing is - and this is the worst part - the BBC can do whatever the hell it likes and it knows it. We HAVE to pay the licence - we can't vote with our feet. Who cares if a few minorities suffer fear, intimidation, violence, as a result of this debate? Who cares if it amounts to incitement to violence (which is illegal)? This is the BBC people! They can do what they want!

    Ugly, abhorrent, arrogant bullies.

    I think we should start a debate on whether the editorial staff on HYS should be executed for starting this debate. Or does that break the house rules?

    At the very least, the BBC should give an unreserved apology; the person responsible should resign; and a statement should be issued saying that the BBC's position is that Uganda's policy is totally evil. Just as they would do regarding the genocide of ANY OTHER MINORITY GROUP.

  • Comment number 54.

    have you not learnt anything from the Jan Moir incident? you ask your readers if gays should be executed. you are journalists, you are meant to use words and language in a precise and meaningful way each day as your profession. To then turn around like Jan Moir did and pretend somehow the fault is with the reader is not only absurd but as offensive as the original article.

    How can you still write:

    But it's important that this does not detract from what is a crucial debate for Africans and the international community.

    What debate? are you still suggesting that their is a debate to be had about the murdering of a whole group of people? that gay people are already 'guilty' and we are only arguing over the punishment?

    Just apologise clearly and simply and with sincerity, not with the weasel words that you have written above.

  • Comment number 55.

    What next

    Should witches be burnt,

    Should kids in africa be killed because they are albino.


    Sorry BBC, not good enough, not good enough by far.

    How about should a prime minister agitate for war and say any excuse will do. That would be more sensible as a topic.

  • Comment number 56.

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

  • Comment number 57.

    Ho my god why the hell are we having this debate. So what we should kill anyone that is different.People should be more concerned about kids been raped.I can clearly see there is still a lot of people will very little education out there. also if this Bill was about white or religion we wouldn't have a debate. This is crazy, How can anyone justify this. They are just looking for a reason to kill gay people. If they go a head with this bill they should lose there aids research centre.Gay people are not the reason they have aids, they are

  • Comment number 58.

    "The programme was a legitimate and responsible attempt to support a challenging discussion about proposed legislation that advocates the death penalty for those who undertake certain homosexual activities in Uganda"

    This statement shows just how wrong you are. It has a fundamental assumption that homosexuality is a choice. The reality is that you could just as well debate about those who "undertake going around tall". This is not a choice. Some people are just gay. Just as some people are red heads, or blue eyed, etc.

    This is not an apology!

  • Comment number 59.

    An absolutely legitimate topic for "debate": I think that's what they said about debating the Jewish problem leading up to WWII. Why don't you do a show on executing Jews, too???

  • Comment number 60.

    The question brought the topic to an immediate attention. The nature of what is happening in Uganda required that the topic draw attention to the irrational bevaviour of their lawmakers - rather their outlaw makers. Keep up the good work.

  • Comment number 61.

    Thank you for this apology, parsimonious though it is. 'Should we execute' gay men or any other group in society is not and can never be 'a crucial debate for Africans and the international community'; on the contrary, it is an invitation to view human beings as expendable. What you should really be apologising for is sloppy journalism and incitement to hatred.

  • Comment number 62.

    If you had simply substituted the word "Jews" for the word "Homosexuals" in preparing this material, one hopes that you would have immediately realized just how offensive this material would be.

  • Comment number 63.

    We apologise for any offence it caused.

    You should be utterly ashamed of that 'apology' if nothing else. It's an "I am sorry you're upset" apology, not a proper "I am sorry I did wrong" one, and it's more of a criticism of anyone that took offence than an acknowledgement of guilt and regret.

    You still owe all of us a proper apology.

  • Comment number 64.

    I really don't understand all the misdirected vitriol. The fury should be directed at the Ugandan parliament for proposing the state murder of people for being gay. What's even more disgraceful is that there are actual non-politician human beings in Uganda (and elsewhere) who DO think this is an appropriate response. It is right of the BBC to remind us that such people exist, that they're not strawmen of the "homosexual lobby."

    The BBC is ABSOLUTELY ONE-HUNDRED PERCENT RIGHT to bring this issue to discussion. Far more people are now aware of this proposed crime against humanity because the BBC chose to highlight it. Thank you BBC.

  • Comment number 65.

    Let me preface my comment by saying I don't read Twitter.
    Frankly it is irrelevant whether one is from the African continent (which is as diverse in culture as Europe, or more so) or from the Moon. What you are suggesting by insisting this is an important debate is that there is (or should be) no such thing as Universal human rights - as if it is a relic of a bygone ignorant age. Instead your question takes the line of relative human rights, as if those who believe in execution of cultural minorities have equal moral standing and shouldn't be upset.
    Whether you like it or not, and in whatever context you like, your HYS question is really nothing more than a straw poll, on whether homosexuals should be executed in Uganda.

    How about "Should Hitler have executed more Jews?", "Was the Catholic Church right not to have Galileo executed?", "Should single mothers be forcibly sterilised?" or "Should capital punishment be reintroduced in the UK for young joyriders?". Are these also what you would call "important" debates?
    If you accept the idea of Universal human rights then you might see why your HYS question is so blatantly wrong. Apart from the obvious observation that the BBC HYS forum is shouting fiasco and anything but a debating forum, therefore the wrong forum, it was simply the wrong question which which to address the subject matter. It should have been "What are the World's leaders going to do about the proposed execution of homosexuals in Uganda?", or something like that.
    Shame on you for defending the indefensible.

  • Comment number 66.

    The BBC has every right to discuss the serious implications of this impending legislation to the human rights of gay men and women in Uganda. However, what has been said by many ad nauseam is that this was undertaken in a very foolish and sensational way.

    The real shame was also that what normally happens with HYS preambles is a link is given to a detailed background news story of the issue that has generated the reason for seeking opinion and debate. There wasn’t one in this case as it hadn’t been written and one has to question why. What was the real agenda behind this impending legislation? What was the roll reported elsewhere of US based right-wing evangelicals nurturing support for this law? What are the opinions of Uganda’s gay population who could be imprisoned or at worse killed for their sexually?

    Of course, the controversy of the debate has now brought the issue into the mainstream press but that is hardly a positive thing. Could this issue have been highlighted in a more intelligent and mature fashion? This was the BBC after all not The Sun or the Daily Mail. The BBC World Service is listened to world wide as an agent of objective news from a progressive, liberal democracy.

    Moreover, the homophobic comments on the HYS web site from various people many in the UK were very disturbing. Some have cited rights to freedom of speech in relation to this but I would counter this with the observation that with rights come responsibilities and the kind comments made by some where just plain nasty homophobia with no redeemable merit as any form of ‘debating’ tool.

    And, as has been suggested by others, there is actually no real debate to had anyway regarding the validity of killing people because of their genetically obtained sexual behaviour as there is for someone colour of skin, eyes or hair.

    Finally I do take exception to the notion that because some people where altered to this via social networking sites their concerns are not valid as outrageous. Personally I was aware of the situation in Uganda sometime ago via news published not by the BBC but elsewhere which actually speaks volumes and is very sad.

  • Comment number 67.

    The fury is misdirected. Throw at the Ugandan lawmakers. I heard some of their comments on the subject. We should all be frightened. And to which group might they direct their misguided irrationality next?

  • Comment number 68.

    Mr Horrocks,

    Social cleansing is wrong. End of. It's not up for debate. The point is that the question you posed was not even a question. A debate requires that there is more than one legitimate answer. What the BBC have done is to propose that it is OK to answer "yes" when asked whether it is OK to kill hundreds of thousands of human beings on the basis of the most vile prejudice. And as you discovered, a lot of so-called people took up your offer.

    This whole affair is a prime example of the dangerous rot that lies at the root of relativism.

    And by saying that for Africans the merits or otherwise of genocide are still a matter for crucial debate is to hold them to a lower standard of morality than Europeans.

    So congratulations. To your homophobia you can now add racism (patronising variety).

    Do yourself a favour and stop talking. Do us a favour and resign.

  • Comment number 69.

    I consider the BBC acted wrongly in this matter.

    Your encouragement of murder is wrong.

    Consider and reflect upon the words and sentiments of Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) in one of it various forms -

    First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out
    because I was not a communist;
    Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out
    because I was not a socialist;
    Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out
    because I was not a trade unionist;
    Then they came for the homosexuals, and I did not speak out
    because I was not a homosexual;
    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out
    because I was not a Jew;
    Then they came for me
    and there was no one left to speak out for me.

  • Comment number 70.

    A "crucial debate"?!?! It is an abhorrable debate. While I recognize that it is still a "debate" irregardless of people's feelings toward the subject, the subject is GENOCIDE. In case the BBC has forgotton, the international community has outlawed genocide vis-a-vis numerous legal instruments since the end of World War II. Genocide is not debatable, it is contemptible and the BBC should approach it as such. I doubt it would be considered acceptable to pose a question for debate such as, "Should Protestants be executed?," or "Should Africans be killed en masse?"

    To suggest that the eradication of the homosexual people from any country, developed or undeveloped, wealthy or poor, first world or third world, could possibly be a "legitimate and responsible attempt to support a challenging discussion about proposed legislation" is inimical to civil society and should be appropriately excoriated by all human beings.

  • Comment number 71.

    "Should homosexuals be executed" is a great topic for a super show, giving voice to people who need to be heard. I'd like to suggest some addition topics for future programs:

    - The Holocaust: A Bummer or Totally Awesome?

    - Don't You Think Slavery Was A Pretty Good Way to Get Things Done?

    - Beating Your Wife: A Good Way to Shut Her Up?

    - Gravity: Are We Sure It's, Like, Real?

    - Should I Shoot You In the Face: A Totally Legitimate and Responsible Attempt to Support a Challenging Discussion About an Important Issue Where We Can Provide a Platform for Debate That Otherwise Would Not Exist

    I look forward to calling in and being a part of the fascinating discussion.

  • Comment number 72.

    Substitute "Jewish in Germany" for "homosexual in Uganda" and you still think that the BBC should provide a platform for debate? The deep-seated bigotry displayed by the BBC is mindboggling.

  • Comment number 73.

    If you do do the honorouble thing, I wouldn't be too worried as I'm sure the Daily Mail would welcome someone who is as adept as orchestrating bigoted campaigns of hatred as you so obviously are.

  • Comment number 74.

    So helpful, I think this "crucial debate" has in fact helped me change my mind. Since I'm gay, why don't I just kill myself?
    The BBC's "apology" regarding this bit of inhumanity in the form of a "crucial debate" has put me off the World Service entirely.
    I mean, who are in you in London? Is this what passes for a "crucial debate" in the UK? Seems like Oklahoma-style hateful propaganda to me.
    Shame on you.
    What next? Idi Amin: Reconsidered!!

  • Comment number 75.

    When I attempted to comment here with an ironic suggestion that a future topic for the show could be "Was the holocaust good or bad," the comment was banned. I think that says it all right there.

  • Comment number 76.

    Vile. Would the BBC have posed the question "Should German Jews be Exterminated?" in 1939?

  • Comment number 77.

    Three comments.

    1. "The State cannot demean their existence or control their destiny by making their private sexual conduct a crime. Their right to liberty under the Due Process Clause gives them the full right to engage in their conduct without intervention of the government."

    Lawrence v Kansas et al.
    No. 02-0102
    US Supreme Justice Anthony Kennedy
    June 26, 2003

    2. I noticed that when I signed up to be a commenter, your terms of service prohibited comments that were homophobic in nature. How about
    polls that are homophobic in nature. Gay people have a right

    2. Would the BBC ever think to run the following kinds of polls :

    Should a teen aged black boy be lynched for whistling at a white woman ?
    Should women be allowed to be ministers ?
    Do women deserve the right to purchase contraceptives ?
    Should children be forced to do factory work ?
    Should men have the right do demand sex from their wives ?

  • Comment number 78.

    I really want to know the answer to a simple question.

    Does the BBC, as an institution, think that my right to exist, as a gay human-being is a topic that merits debate?

  • Comment number 79.

    Many have brought up the comparison to racial and religious minorities to point out why putting genocide up to debate is wrong--but perhaps the people who still don't understand why presenting the question of whether a group of human beings should be exterminated is abhorrent will get it if we phase it differently. How about; "should newspaper editors be put to death?" Or "should people who post oppinions on websites be tracked down and guillotined?" Maybe they'll understand why it's not "news" to ask whether human beings should be executed.

  • Comment number 80.

    Dear Mr. Horrocks,

    I wonder if during the 1930's the BBC would have put a poll up asking - "Should we execute the Jews?"

    Of COURSE you would not have. This is truly offensive and serious. It is clear that you, nor your colleague, nor, I suppose anyone in a position of influence at the BBC, why this was inexcusable. Additionally, the term "in hindsight" needs to be considered, this is such an OBVIOUSLY immoral, indecent, demeaning question to be put forth that it simply should never have been given the go ahead in the first place. An apology does not consist of "we are sorry for any offence it caused" and then an argument as to why it was completely valid thing to do. It was wrong. You have severely dehumanized, demeaned, and devalued a large segment of the world thru this action and have embolden those who wish to denegrate and harm GLBT persons with a sense of approval. By merely asking that question you tell Uganda, Rwanda, and many other countries with such inhumanities that their is room for negotiation - that believing that homosexuality is wrong to the point of MURDERING people is justifiable and an arguable position.

    I implore the BBC to do the right thing, to not only apologize but to begin to act with conscience, humility, and a sence of moral obligation towards your fellow humans.


    Jim Bergstrom

  • Comment number 81.

    Dbmcvey has nailed the issue exactly, it is news nor debatable to allow people to opine on whether this group or that group should be executable. To suggest otherwise in the interests of supposed "journalism" merely exists to provide a cover of legitimacy when going to the gutter to try and generate publicity. Journalism is about the courage to challenge authority and dig for the truth, it is not about providing cover and legitimacy to those who would murder.

  • Comment number 82.

    Stark? No way!

    As a regular listener of the world service, there are many times that I have not been comfortable with the headlines up for discussion concerning Africa. In those times I have wished for a retraction or an apology of a kind. However, this is NOT one of those topics. I believe it was a fair headline and need no squirm.

  • Comment number 83.

    What is this supposed debate about, exactly? Whether the legislation is a good idea? Whether other countries should speak out about it or just leave them to it? What the hell? If Texas decided to pass legislation bringing back lynching for black men who speak to white women, would you want to debate the relative merits of that? If Germany decided to start exterminating Jews again, would there be something to debate about? There is nothing to debate. It is a despicable, evil, unbeliveable piece of legislation drafted and promoted by scarily ignorant, despicable people. The only logical, reasonable reaction to it is to denounce it in the strongest possible terms. Shame on you.

  • Comment number 84.

    I have occasionally tuned into this programme, although I didn't hear this controversial edition. The problem is the nature of the programme World Have Your Say. It is a programme that promotes respectful debate between people of differing points of view. This works OK in Britain, where most of us basically agree on the kind of society we want to live in and we argue about the details. When you transfer this model to a programme which has a global audience consisting of people of widely different cultural backgrounds, the results can be crass. They once had a debate on whether religion should play a part in politics or whether religion and politics should be kept separate. Well, if you are a fundamentalist Muslim who believes that the Koran is the word of God, you obviously believe that Islam should inform politics. If you are an atheist, you obviously don't. You can't have a meaningful or interesting dialogue between these points of view. It is this liberal conceit that there are no problems that cannot be solved through civilised discussion that has led the programme makers to organise what sounds like a grotesque "debate" between homosexuals and the people who want to kill them.

  • Comment number 85.

    Mr. Horrocks,

    Your apology is weak and shows that you fail to understand not only that this bill advocates genocide but also that genocide should never be up for legitimate debate. Furthermore, when you refer in the last sentence to "...proposed legislation that advocates the death penalty for those who undertake certain homosexual acitivities..." you imply that homosexuals in Uganda might in some way be responsible for their own executions should this bill pass.

    It is my hope that the BBC would require you to enroll in a sensitivity training to better understand the prejudice--both explicit and, as in your apology, implicit--against homosexuals.


  • Comment number 86.

    If Peter Horrocks himself were himself a target of ant-homosexual terror, he might have a different, and less self-righteous, opinion of such "debates". Is there never a point at which members of a civilized society must agree that certain propositions are simply not open for debate? What's next? If the Parliament of Uganda starts debating a law that allows parents to sell their children into sexual slavery, will the BBC open the floor for that debate as well? Because clearly Mr Horrocks believes that if something is debated in Uganda, the BBC must sponsor an open and free discussion of the "pro" as well as "con" positions.

  • Comment number 87.

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

  • Comment number 88.

    Try as I may I still can't believe any of this. Humans occupy a very small rock with a lot of water on it flying through space. They've been fighting for century upon century over land and water and women and sex and religion and god and everything else. And stupidly so. And when they can't find something to fight about they make stuff up to fight about just so they can keep fighting. This human race is a disgrace.

    In my youth the movie 'The Day The Earth Stood Still' was a favorite- and years later when I heard the 'alien' remark about humans and their inability to even communicate- much less get along- and called them and their behavior STUPID- I laughed. And laughed.

    In the recent remake- humans have already been judged lacking- and they are about to be wiped off the face of this planet by a superior force that will no longer tolerate their religious and political war-based cultural stupidity. This genocide disturbed me. In the original we still had a chance to redeem ourselves.

    But there is nothing even remotely redeemable about religions preaching genocide against some segment- any segment really- of the human race- because their STUPID GOD is reported to think them unacceptable.

    I vote to put to death every christian Ugandan that votes to murder gays and lesbians. I vote to put to death all heterosexists everywhere just because they are heterosexist. I vote to put to death any foolish journalists who think my execution or imprisonment is a viable alternative lifestyle for me because of my inherent sexuality and its outward expression- and therefore a debatable topic.

    Oh wait- maybe we should just totally annihilate ourselves entirely and get it over with. Is there anything here really that should be saved? I think so less and less each day...

    J. Bruce Wilcox

  • Comment number 89.

    I see...

    May I suggest other "legitimate and responsible" topics for your show to discuss? After all, it's important that BBC "provide a platform for debate that otherwise would not exist."

    - Are the British children legitimate targets of Irish terrorism?
    - Should people from Africa be enslaved?
    - Should women be allowed to vote?
    - So forth and so on...

    I hope I've made my point. Mr. Horrock, some topics by their nature are not "legitimate and responsible" to debate.

  • Comment number 90.

    @FrankFisher: I'm not easily offened; I am, however, appropriately offended and so should any other decent human being!

    @BBC: This is more of a "sorry we offended you but we were right" appology. As a license payer, "Appology not accepted"

  • Comment number 91.

    @FrankFisher: I'm not easily offened; I am, however, appropriately offended and so should any other decent human being!

    Umm, wrong.

    Anyway chaps, it's Friday, another day, and I see that the twittering schedule suggests you should all be outraged about RATM today, then the snow later this afternoon. Quick, start complaining about that!

    Honstly, what a bunch of grizzling old women. Mr Horrocks, you have my sympathy for having to deal with such a hysterical, infantile, authoritarian mob.

  • Comment number 92.

    Too little, too late. Let's fill in the blank with "X" minority group and ask public opinion if it's okay to execute them. Disgusting, BBC!

  • Comment number 93.

    Post number 82 says: "As a regular listener of the world service, there are many times that I have not been comfortable with the headlines up for discussion concerning Africa. In those times I have wished for a retraction or an apology of a kind. However, this is NOT one of those topics. I believe it was a fair headline and need no squirm."

    Thanks BBC.

    Posts like number 82 above indicate that some people believe my right to exist is a worthy topic of debate.

    I do NOT however want to see my TV license fee going to an organisation like the BBC if the BBC merits my right to exist as a topic worthy of debate.

    I want to see a proper apology from the BBC and an assurance lazy homophobia is to be regarded as seriously as racism or anti-semitism.

    Peter Horrocks defence of a debate on the merits of genocide against gay people in Uganda, indicates that neither he nor the BBC genuinely understand how grotesque the original topic was or how this lazy, non-apology is still allowing people to argue in favour of genocide against me.

    Why is the BBC so far unable to acknowledge and apologise for the hideous, homophobic mistake that has been made? Your refusal to do so simply compounds the horror felt by many gay people at the original topic.

    Should Peter Horrocks resign?
    Should he be sacked?
    Or should he be executed?
    You tell me.

  • Comment number 94.

    Should BBC editors face execution?

    Sorry was that too stark and challenging? Do you find it offensive, upsetting and frightening? Probably not, because BBC editors are not murdered and abused day in day out, unlike gay people.

    You arrogant bully, BBC. Will you stop at nothing in the ratings race? Who cares if you trample on the minority, who cares if they suffer a bit of hate crime? You know you can do exactly as you please because we are forced by law to fund this abhorrent organisation.

    I am disgusted.

    Will you reject this too?

  • Comment number 95.

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

  • Comment number 96.

    Homophobia leads to violence and murder like the brutal murder of Matthew Shepard a young man who was tortured, beaten and killed after he said to men he was talking he was gay.

    This is why we never debate whether or not it's legimiate to kill a group of people,

    Honstely i think BBC should be sued for promiting homophobia

  • Comment number 97.

    The wording of the orignal posting here could be clearer.

    I thought you were apologising for upsetting the africans - normally we aren't allowed to say anything criticising africans.

    Now I realise it the gays that are saying we can't discuss the issue. So I think that means it is now OK to criticise the africans. Not sure about that though.

    Can we have a list of the different groups we are not allowed to upset so that we know what can be discussed? For example, where are Jewish people now? At one time it was totally out of order to criticise Jewish people, but now the same people who told me that seem to be the biggest anti-semites. I used to discuss the weather, but even that is no longer guaranteed not to offend someone.

    We need some clarification.

    (For the record - I need not even a moments consideration of the proposed Ugandan law. The idea that anyone could face execution for their sexual orientation is entirely unacceptable. Not sure that I can think of another side to the 'debate')

  • Comment number 98.

    Why do you keep rejecting me, bbc?? is it because I suggested the BBC cares more about ratings than protecting minorities? is it because i said many gay people would be upset and frightened by this debate? or is it because i said the BBC can do as it pleases because we are legally forced to pay the licence fee?

    which part of this would you consider unfair, BBC?

  • Comment number 99.

    I am sorry? A "legitimate and responsible attempt to support a challenging discussion about proposed legislation that advocates the death penalty"?

    "legitimate and responsible"?

    Would it be legitimate and responsible to debate the mass killing of Jews or Blacks or Serbs? Or does the BBC see this as fundamentally different. Is homosexuality somehow different and less deserving of life? The British Legal System, and EU Human Rights charter would seem to disagree.

    Horrifying as the headline was, and lame as the apology is, the most disappointing thing here is that the core issue is being missed.

    Uganda is voting on making homosexual acts illegal, and punishable by death. The BBC has missed the opportunity to start a meaningful conversation on THAT topic. I recognise that was the intent, but you missed the mark. So what are you ACTUALLY going to do about it?

    Right now the top stories on the BBC news Web site are:
    > Warning as climate deal emerges
    > Mumbai accused says he was framed
    > Auschwitz death camp sign stolen
    > DNA frees US prisoner 35 years on
    > Deadly blast near Pakistan mosque

    All important, I grant you, but where is the headline "Uganda Contemplates law that will potentially kill 6-10% of their population?" If it were Catholics or some other "choice", the BBC would not likely enter a "debate" on the matter. You would likely be waving around words like Genocide.

    Homosexuality isnt a choice, but one can choose to abstain - and live a life of lies, misery and denial.

    Thank you so very much for showing exactly where the BBC stands.


  • Comment number 100.

    Robert Brave, I could not possibly have put it better myself. Thank you.


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