[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 29 June 2006, 07:29 GMT 08:29 UK
Do you have a right to be gay?
Gay pride in South Africa
As some of the Nigerian community in London prepare to host an international day of prayer in support of lesbian and gay people living in Nigeria, do you have a right to be gay?

The prayer day on 2 July is being held to voice opposition to a government bill introduced earlier this year. The proposed law bans same-sex marriage, forbids gay people forming associations and criminalises any organisation that works on homosexual issues.

Homosexuality is criminalised in the majority of African countries however in South Africa, homosexuals are protected under the constitution.

Should people have a right to be gay and live their lives in peace? Or should homosexuality be illegal? Are you gay? What is it like to be a gay African?

This debate is now closed. Thank you for your comments.

Your comments:

Does everyone know the nightmare it is being homosexual? Do you really think anyone would choose this preference? Does anyone know how many times a homosexual has asked him/her self "why did God make me this way?" - before you say it is un-natural think about the very day you chose to be heterosexual.
Mike, new Orleans

Homosexuality is a sign against the holy spirit which can never be forgiven in this life and in the life to come. It is a direct affront on God.
Didacus, Dundee, Scotland

A person that is gay should not have any rights at all!
Abdikarin, Somalia

What should be criminal is corruption, bad governance, red tape and African dictators. You can be whatever you want to be as long as you don't harm others.
Mesfin, Eritrean in Oakland

A person's sexual preference is a private matter. If someone is gay or heterosexual society has no control over the issue. Societies should strive to offer all their citizens equal opportunities independent of sexual preferences, religious believes, political affiliations and ethnic grouping..
Concerned African, Washington/US

"Judge not, so that you will not be judged" Homosexuality is a moral crime against God and man. However, we can't hate them, we have to love them, and forbid any violence against them. Nevertheless, we can't legalize their marriage, because it does not agree with the institution of marriage. I ask you, how would you feel if men start giving birth to babies? If it sounds right, then gay/lesbian marriage sounds okay.
Henry, Texas/USA/Nigeria

Yes and Yes! you have a right to be gay but NO right to demand respect and acceptance from the non gay community. Think about it- Do the gay community ever think about the pain felt by those who love them but hate their adopted lifestyle?.
Richard, Kampala/ Uganda

My friend committed suicide last year simply because he was feed up of being attracted to men. He was born in Africa and had never been overseas. He was a good person, a Christian as well. He got married but the likeness towards men never left him. Can someone explain this? I hope Africans will grow up someday; we have to stop being the backward continent.
David Lagos, Lagos

More prominence is being given to pro-gay comments and I guess majority of the anti-gay comments are being censored. The perverted Western world is once again trying to push a perverted agenda in Africa. Homosexuality is against the order of nature. It is not only a sign of mental disorder (for which the perpetrator should be consigned to a mental home,) it should be treated as a crime.
Ade, Lagos

Times change, we all change in so many ways - justifying prejudice with reference to tradition is ridiculous
Pantaleo Kubirabe, Kasese/Uganda
It's crazy that so many people are arguing that it's not 'African', or traditional, to be gay. These are people who are arguing in English, and who frequently refer to the Bible. Times change, we all change in so many ways - justifying prejudice with reference to tradition is ridiculous.
sky, Perth, Australia

Man was created for woman and there is no way we can avoid that without breaking law of nature
Pantaleo Kubirabe, Kasese/Uganda
We are male or female for a purpose of procreation which is the intention of the creator. It is also a human right which should not be violated. Man was created for woman and there is no way we can avoid that without breaking law of nature.
Pantaleo Kubirabe, Kasese/Uganda

Being gay is something you're born with and the sooner people in Africa and around world realise this the better!
Bob Hall, Guildford, UK
I think some of the comments on this subject are unbelievable and sad. Being gay is not a life style choice because who would seriously choose it over being straight??.. Being gay is something you're born with and the sooner people in Africa and around world realise this the better!.. A decent education system without religious interference would certainly help this narrow-minded view of gays.
Bob Hall, Guildford, UK

It is astonishing how ignorant many people are, especially leaders in Africa who are too busy focusing on discrimination rather than solving the many, many problems on their continent that we in the US can hardly imagine. Of course people have a right to be gay, and I don't care what your culture, community, or religion says.
Tom, NJ, USA

The ratio of women to men in Africa is 200 to 90, then why legalize homosexual relationships since they are more than enough women around for every man?
Henry Baba, Uyo, Nigeria

Being gay is against nature. What people decide to do in the privacy of their homes is there business but I don't think we should set aside special laws for gays.
Rita, USA

I was born in Namibia and found it hard to adjust being a white gay African. I regard myself as being African. The homophobia is not just a black African issue and is also very rife amongst the conservative and liberal whites. I live in UK now with my partner of four years in a happy stable relationship. The only problem with this is that our partnership would most certainly not be recognised in Namibia and my partner would not be allowed to work there.
Francois, Namibia

People (whether heterosexual, homosexual or asexual) should exhibit their sexuality (or lack of it) within their bedrooms. By the same token, governments have no business peering into people's bedrooms. However, there should be zero tolerance for discrimination when a person's sexuality becomes public knowledge, for whatever reason. Governments, particularly those in Africa, have more pressing problems, eg healthcare and poverty reduction.
Akpan, Kent, UK/Nigeria

People have a right to chose whatever they wanted be, but in Africa we have a culture. Family name is so important that you strive so much not to tarnish this. I will say for anybody that wants to be a gay, they have the right, but they should think about their culture and their faith.
Babatude Adewole, Nigeria

Of course people have a right to be gay. It is a basic matter of respect for the individual. Those who would stop homosexuality or punish gays, anywhere in the world, are simply evil. We must not compromise, or allow for cultural relativity. That would be as bad as compromising with al-Qaeda.
Richard, London, UK

I am an African lesbian. My sexual orientation is me, how can there be any debate about whether I have a right to be what I am? Heterosexual Africans should wake up to the truth.
Chris Smith

I don't think people should debate about an issue like homosexuality. It's not African at all. God said that a man will leave his parents and cleave unto his wife, not to another man.
Victor Owo, Eket Nigeria

We don't choose to be gay and we shouldn't have to suffer discrimination and injustice because we are gay. No matter where in the world we live. Africa should spend more effort (along with our help) on feeding and housing its people rather than making laws that vilify some of them.
Brendan Taggart, Bristol, UK

Why do people have to interfere in the lives of others when they are not harming anyone else? It's not as if you legalise it the whole country will turn gay and stop reproducing if that's what you're worried about. And on the basis of religion, didn't God give us free will, and what right do we have to impose our religious views on others?
John, Leeds

Being a gay in Nigeria is a taboo. One may lose his or her life if found to be one. I believe we all have equal rights and ought to have the same treatment. I am one but I don't know how it came about. I think is natural. There should be laws that back homosexuality in Nigeria.
Stan, Owerri, Nigeria

Of course anyone has a right to be gay. In my opinion, this right is not any different from the right to live and breath. As a heterosexual African, I have been dismayed by the attitudes of many Africans toward gay people. We tend to be more hostile toward gays than many Western societies. This is even more shocking in the context of our history of suffering discrimination at the hands of those who considered us "an abomination". One would expect us to be more sympathetic and accepting of gay people.
Henry, Lusaka, Zambia

The culture of Africa forbids same sex marriage. The fact that it is practised in other continents does not make it right. Africans, let's respect and defend our culture.
Daniel Bassah, Accra, Ghana

Nature versus nurture arguments aside, there is no earthly reason why anyone should meddle in the issue. There are no questions of "rights" here; of course we have the right to be gay. It is a fact of life and always will be.
Tom, Chicago, IL, USA

No such right exists for any person man or woman to be gay/lesbian. If so, how do mankind reproduce? It is clear that a man and man or a woman and woman relationships cannot reproduce another human being, why do we belabour the issue? Clearly, such relationships are against the laws of creation and therefore should be discouraged.
Chuka, Enugu, Nigeria

Anyone has a right to be gay, lesbian or even bisexual. It's based on individual preference. What bothers me about the whole ordeal is the gay and lesbian community's eagerness at shoving their adopted lifestyles down our throats. Homosexuality and lesbianism shouldn't be gathering as much momentum as the media has accorded them.
Lara Ladejobi, USA

The bible says that it is an abomination. It is a dirty game. It is dangerous to humankind. The first time I saw a man kissing another man on TV, I vomited the whole day.
Rickie, USA

Of course I have the right to be gay. Just like I have a right to pick up a sword and kill someone or breathe if I want to. It is the consequences that follow that I must decide whether or not I want to deal with. In Accra it is difficult for me to justify being gay since our whole society seems to go against it.
Kwadwo, Accra Ghana

Homosexuality is un-African and should not be encouraged.
Serwaa, Switzerland

I don't believe sexuality can be chosen by most people. I think it is mostly innate and set well before puberty. Therefore if people cannot "choose" to be straight or gay (apart from the bisexual anomaly), it is wrong to deny people their inbuilt desires. To deny homosexuality is like to deny immigrants a right to acknowledge their own ethnicity.
Justin Baidoo-Hackman, Hatfield, UK

It's incredulous that this question is even asked in this day and age. Despite what many bigots might still feel, asking the question only fuels their ignorant and misdirected ire. People who discriminate and otherwise marginalize anyone should be given as few opportunities as possible.
Ron, NYC

Homosexuality should not be seen as crime but governments have the right to protect the families at all cost. we don't want any unfruitful relationship in Africa.
Uno, London

We all have the right to become what we wish to be, provided they conform to the norms of a community. Bad relationship all over the world is the cause of same-sex relationships. it all happens when a united family breaks apart because of lust by a father or mother in a home. when children witness situations like that, they are tempted to believe that relationship with a female or a male is bad.
Noah Nash, Cape Coast, Ghana

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific