This weekend the BBC World Service (on satellite TV and its radio service) will broadcast an edited version of a debate on gay rights in Africa. The debate was taped in Johannesburg, South Africa.” The key focus of the debate was: ” Is Homosexuality Un-African?”   We know the answer to that question: No it is not.

The pre-publicity for the debate suggests the host and panelists would tackle more useful questions:

What is the evidence of pre-colonial gay and lesbian people in Africa? Is there any evidence to back up the claim that Westerners are importing or recruiting Africans to homosexuality?  Is there evidence instead that modern-day Christian evangelists are the ones importing homophobia to the continent?

Who has the right to define what is acceptable culturally or ethically in Africa?  Do religious leaders have a monopoly on ethics?  How should traditions be interpreted or adapted to serve present-day African societies?

If it’s not possible to reconcile some religious beliefs with sexual diversity and freedoms, is it at least possible for diverse views and practices to be tolerated.   How do we build a society in which diversity is embraced and difference is not seen as a threat?  Isn’t this quite simply a human rights issue?

The panelists are David Bahati, the author of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda (see more on his bigotry, here), former Botswana President Festus Mogae (I did not know he had a position on gay rights; apparently he does), Eusebius Mckaiser (a gay rights activist and lecturer from South Africa), Paula Akugizibwe (a Rwandan national and with the Aids Rights Alliance for Southern Africa) as well as Sideeqah Tunde-Lawal (a leader of the Ansar’U-Deen Youth Association of Nigeria). The host is the BBC’s Zeinab Badawi.

Here are the listed viewing times:
BBC World News Television:

Saturday 12th March, 09:10 GMT
Saturday 12th March, 22:10 GMT
Sunday 13th March 15:10 GMT

The program will also be broadcast on BBC World Service Radio.

Saturday 12th March 18:06 GMT
Sunday 13th March 13:06 GMT

If you can’t make it, the South African site My Big Debate–it produced similar programs for South Africa’s ETV including one with South Africans on gay rights–promised it will post the edited debate on its website sometime next week.

* The image is from Benedicte Desrus’ Persecution of Homosexuality in Uganda, on show in New York City from next week onwards.