BBC World Service criticised over homosexuals headline

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The Independent Online

The BBC Trust has rejected a complaint about a headline on the World Service website that asked, "Should homosexuals face execution?", it was announced today.

The question was linked to a Have Your Say debate page based on a radio programme broadcast on December 16 after the Ugandan government said it was considering legislation which would impose the death penalty for some homosexual acts.

The monthly bulletin from the trust's editorial standards committee said a complaint was received in January by a woman who said she "considered it outrageous" that the question was posed.

She also criticised subsequent apologies from BBC executives David Stead and Peter Horrocks as "flimsy" and "half-hearted" and said the decision to generate a debate on the topic would "invite comments that could easily be criminal incitement to hatred".

The report said the committee agreed with the director of World Service, Peter Horrocks, who wrote in his blog that the headline was "too stark".

The report concluded: "The committee would request that the BBC Executive review its online editorial guideline on audience expectations to ensure that content writers are reminded that all content is available globally, and that any contentious issues should be suitably contextualised in order to prevent the general reader from misunderstanding its purpose."