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Petitioning Chair of the Executive Board and the BBC Direction Group Mark Thompson and 2 others

Demand the BBC Apologize for Polling the Question: "Should Homosexuals Be Executed?"

The British Broadcasting Corporation's (BBC) "Africa Have Your Say" forum ran a poll asking whether it was ever acceptable to execute gay people. The poll, which was intended to cover the debate in Uganda over whether to implement the death penalty or life imprisonment for the country's LGBT people, ran on the Web site of the BBC.

After receiving widespread criticism from activists, the BBC changed the wording of the poll to say, "Should Uganda Debate Gay Execution?" But that's simply not good enough.

By polling the question of whether gay people deserve to be executed, the BBC is feeding into the very extreme homophobia and views that are fueling the criminalization of homosexuality around the globe. Send a clear message to the BBC: it is never OK to execute people because of their sexual orientation. To pose the question is abhorrent.

Let's demand the BBC apologize for such an insensitive and potentially very dangerous poll.

Letter to
Chair of the Executive Board and the BBC Direction Group Mark Thompson
Director of Marketing, Communications & Audiences Sharon Baylay
Acting Head of BBC's Africa/Middle East Bureau Liliane Landor
The BBC's "Africa Have Your Say" program ran a poll that asked the BBC's audience whether it was ever acceptable to execute gay people. While the poll may have been part of the BBC's coverage of Uganda's Anti-Homosexuality Bill, asking a question about whether an entire population should be executed is irresponsible journalism, and feeds into the very homophobia behind bills like the one up for consideration in Uganda.

In justifying the poll, the host of "Africa Have Your Say," David Stead, suggested that asking whether gay people should be murdered was appropriate because it's a question that reflects the level of discourse in Uganda. But the BBC should have higher standards than politicians and religious figures in Uganda who want to murder gay people.

It is never acceptable to execute people because of their sexual orientation. And it is never acceptable to put the question up for a poll, as if there could be a reasonable "Yes" answer. To do so is equivalent to polling the acceptability of genocide or ethnic cleansing. The BBC, simply put, should know better.

I demand that the BBC not only apologize for hosting a poll asking whether gay people should be murdered, but also explain how a poll question like this managed to get through the editorial process. This poll was dangerous, and fostered homophobia. It should be condemned.