Storm over BBC online debate on 'killing gays'
An MP has condemned the BBC for hosting an online debate asking if homosexuals should face execution.
That was the question put to users of the BBC website yesterday, on a talkboard discussion as part of a World Service programme for African listeners.
More than 633 comments were sent to the discussion board, 206 of which were published before it was closed, making it the most popular forum on the website today.
The discussion, sparked by an anti-homosexuality bill due to be debated tomorrow by the Ugandan parliament, quickly caused controversy and was renamed "Should Uganda debate gay execution?"
While many contributors expressed shock that the question was up for discussion, some agreed with the notion that gay people should be put to death.
Chris from Guildford, wrote: “Totally agree. Ought to be imposed in the UK too, asap. Bring back some respectable family values. Why do we have to suffer ‘gay pride’ festivals? Would I be allowed to organise a ‘straight pride’ festival? No, thought as much!! If homosexuality is natural, as we are forced to believe, how can they sustain the species? I suggest all gays are put on a remote island and left for a generation — after which, theoretically there should be none left!”
Another, from Aaron in Freetown, said: “Bravo to the Ugandans for this wise decision, a bright step in eliminating this menace from your society. We hope other African nations will also follow your bold step.”
"We should be looking at what is going on in Uganda with abhorrence," said lawmaker Eric Joyce of the ruling Labour Party. "We should be condemning it, and the BBC should be condemning it. ... Instead it seems to have thought it appropriate to come up with something that suggests it's a subject for discussion."
Lynne Featherstone, a lawmaker from the opposition Liberal Democrats, said she has written to BBC executives seeking an apology and an end to the Web discussion.
"Suggesting that the state-sponsored murder of gay people is OK as a legitimate topic for debate is deeply offensive," she said.
Liliane Landor, the BBC World Service acting head of Africa region, said it realised the headline, but it was carefully put in context. "We wanted to frame the question starkly, in order to reflect the stark reality of the Ugandan bill," she said.