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BBC Defends Ditches Uganda Gay Execution Poll


After defending a poll which asked readers "Should homosexuals face execution" in Uganda, the BCC has ditched the controversial question is exchange for the more moderate, "Should Uganda debate gay execution?"

The BBC came under fire Wednesday from gay activists, who bombarded news blogs and attacked the BBC on Twitter. The original poll question sparked debate, including comments suggesting that the United Kingdom should follow in Uganda's footsteps and impose a death penalty for gays and lesbians.

Uganda is currently debating the proposed "kill the gays" bill which would make homosexuality punishable by life imprisonment or death.

Senior political figures throughout the UK were quick to complain. Lynne Featherstone, a liberal democratic member of parliament, wrote to the BBC general director.

"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. 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 apologize for their gross insensitivity."

Before the poll was changed, BBC's World Service Africa Program editor David Stead issued the following statement: "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. 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 emails 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."

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