Talkboard post seeks readers' views ahead of interactive World Service programme Africa Have Your Say
The BBC today asked users of its news website "Should homosexuals face execution?" on a talkboard discussion for a World Service programme for African listeners. Posted on a BBC News premoderated talkboard, the thread was designed to provoke discussion ahead of the latest edition of interactive World Service programme Africa Have Your Say.
"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 post said.
The talkboard post asked users to send in their views to the programme, which goes out on the World Service and is also available online.
"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?," the post added.
Premoderated posts included one from Chris, Guildford, posted at 8.59am, which attracted 51 recommendations of support. He 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 somewhere 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."
The Africa Have Your Say programme aired at 4pm today. By 5.30pm, the headline of the discussion had been changed to "Should Uganda debate gay execution?".
Liliane Landor, the BBC World Service acting head of Africa region, defended the radio programme and talkboard post, saying it allowed gays and lesbians from Uganda, whose voices have never been heard in the UK, to talk with dignity about the impact the legislation would have on their lives.
The show also included the opinion of those who supported the anti-homosexual legislation, including religious leaders, she said. "The programme was a dignified exchange between people who have differing beliefs," Landor added.
Landor said that the World Service realised that the headline on the talkboard was blunt, 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 added.
The BBC Pride board, composed of gay and lesbian staff at the corporation, lobbied the World Service to change the headline and close discussion "to minimise negative reflection on the BBC".
Eric Joyce, the Labour MP for Falkirk, labelled the post "more than offensive". "It's completely unacceptable. And it's mainly British people replying," he said on Twitter.
The talkboard post is understood to have been written by a female member of the BBC World Service Africa bureau. The World Service, which broadcasts in 32 languages on TV, radio and the web, is part of BBC Global News, but funded by the Foreign Office.