While reading a story out of Kenya today, on the proposed anti-gay Ugandan legislation, I came across something disturbing that happened a couple of weeks back.
As the East African reported on a House of Commons debate, which termed the proposed bill "abhorrent," the article noted,
The debate followed sustained criticism for the BBC, which posted a comments section on its website asking whether homosexuals should be killed.
The Bill proposes the death penalty for any HIV positive person who takes part in a homosexual act, and life imprisonment for anyone convicted of the “offence” of homosexuality.
Yes, 'disgusting' fits.More than 600 people posted their views. While some agreed that gay men and women should be killed, others were appalled that the debate was being conducted online, terming it as “disgusting”.
I went to that BBC site, where the dialogue is now closed, and learned that, of 633 comments, 188 were published and 207 were rejected. I assume the remaining 238 were consigned to some sort of BBC purgatory.
You will be happy to learn that most people, at least among the entries published, did not favor our demise.
The most 'recommended' response, from 'Robert, UK,' had this to say:
Isn't it strange that the Ugandan parliament doesn't suggest the death sentence for corruption? Political corruption in Ugandan causes far more misery than gay men.
And I wonder how many of those politicians secretly have homosexual feelings?Other popular posts condemned those who suggested that, while they did not like the proposed law, Brits should stay out of Uganda's affairs. That prompted this popular reply:
This is obscene, hypocritical, prejudiced nonsense. It is something from the Dark Ages.
I'm pretty sure it was our business when Hitler started killing people because of their race, and rightly so. If Uganda starts killing people because of their sexual orientation, then it's very much the world's business.One poster said that even the mere suggestion of ignoring the bill,
is as immoral as the execution. I guess we had no right to criticise the holocaust?Here are a couple of the anti-gay comments that were published (one can only imagine what hatred was filtered out):
"The West is quick to berate and undermine anything African...as barbaric or primitive. The West presents its culture as universal--using terms as human rights, universal freedom, global war on terror etc.The assumption is that other societies can only become civilized if they abandon their cultures and embrace Western ethos. Behind this agenda there is race, racism and racialism.On the surface, it appears to be just homosexuality but there is a deeper meaning. Get rid of this vice Africa."
"What other treatment should anyone else prescribe for anyone who knowingly gives a disease with death sentence to their innocent victims?"
"I fully endorse the legislation intended to protect the culture and traditions of Uganda. What we should understand that much as people have their rights, these rights should not be exercised at the detriment of the society in which we live.
"Remember that Uganda (and by extension Africa) has a unique tradition which needs to be protected by the influences of Western culture which seem to corrupt the morals of our generation."The original piece from the BBC can be found here.
For many, it was the actual posing of the question that is most infuriating. We do not have forums questioning whether slavery was just, or if inter-racial marriage is acceptable. How can there be any justification for a respected news outlet to even put the question up for discussion.
The BBC, under intense criticism, responded with this explanation from their editors:
Sorry BBC. That did not fly with me. I am glad that the House of Commons saw fit to take your 'coverage' on.
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."
The only good that I see coming of this is the fact that it made more people focus on what Uganda was trying to do.
However, there are better ways to get that accomplished.