A BBC news website has been criticised for asking users to debate the topic “Should homosexuals face execution?” on a discussion forum.
“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,” read the introduction to the forum.
The BBC today talkboard post was meant to stimulate discussion about an upcoming Africa Have Your Say programme focusing on Uganda’s anti-gay bill.
However, the discussion thread has come under fire for being highly offensive, with a number of gays and lesbians as well as politicians slamming the BBC for its insensitive approach to the issue. Critics questioned if the BBC would ask a similar question with regard to Jewish people in the holocaust or Rwanda’s “ethnic cleansing.
A man named Chris responded to the question on the site by writing: “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 somewhere and left for a generation – after which, theoretically there should be none left!”
Another user, Aaron, wrote: “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.”
British Liberal Democrat MP Lynne Featherstone wrote to the BBC demanding that it issue an apology. “I would be the first person to stand up for open debate and free speech, but any conversation that starts ‘should homosexuals face execution’ is completely skewed and unacceptable in this forum,” she said.
“Suggesting that the state-sponsored murder of gay people is OK as a legitimate topic for debate is deeply offensive. The BBC are only fanning the flames of hatred as many of the comments demonstrate. They must act and apologise for their gross insensitivity.”
While the BBC at first defended the discussion topic, it later changed the question to read: “Should Uganda debate gay execution?”