Friday, December 18, 2009

Why the BBC shouldn't have apologised

And why we need to get over ourselves for our own good.

Yesterday, the BBC asked (on their Africa Have Your Say page) "Should homosexuals face execution?".

This question was relevant to the discussion of a new proposed (and likely to be passed) law in Uganda. This is a pretty big deal. The proposed legislation not only makes being gay punishable by jail or execution, but it makes knowledge of a homosexual person punishable as well, if you fail to report them.

And the outcry against the BBC began. I was puzzled by it, frankly. I still am. But I often am puzzled, and work was busy yesterday, so it all slipped past me.

Then this morning, I perused my usual blogs. I saw that Joe.My.God (one of my favourite bloggers) was blogging about it and I read his posts. I still failed to understand what the problem was. I did steal his screencap for this post.

The BBC did not say they thought that homosexuals should face execution. They simply asked others did they think so.

I can understand being afraid of the answer. I'm gay. I live in a country where homosexuality, while tolerated, is hardly embraced.

However silencing the debate is not the answer. Why do we want to hide the bigots? Without getting into freedom of the press, etc, I think this should only be curtailed in very extreme situations. This wasn't one of those.

The majority of the answers are "No! Of course not!" and I would have expected that. Even those who don't think homosexuality is a great thing, generally don't believe in killing gay people.

However, there are reasonable people in our societies who are unaware of the bigotry and hate that still exists. They have largely gotten over their general problems with homosexuality (so they believe everyone has). Their friends and colleagues rarely say anything objectionable about gay people, and if they do, it's all in fun, and not meant "that way" (so they assume).  They have gay friends, family and they treat them like they do everyone else (so they think everyone else does).

What they don't know, and gay people cannot forget, is that there is still bigotry and hate even in our white-washed, supposedly PC-gone-mad society.

Why is it the end of the world if people see the nutcases, haters and homophobes for what they really are? Are we worried their ideas will catch on? I'm more worried that we're forgetting they are there.

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