Gay Activist Murdered in Uganda

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Ugandan gay activist David Kato was at home when one of his neighbors broke in and beat him to death with a hammer. Although Ugandan police are hesitant to call Kato's murder a hate crime, the outspoken gay activist had feared for his life in recent months after a local newspaper published a list of local gay people with his face on the front and the headline: "Hang Them." Kato had successfully sued the paper, but after the country's high court ordered a permanent injunction to stop unauthorized public outings, Kato and others on the list received death threats.

Uganda's typical homophobia has been ramped up in recent years by "religious leaders, a group of US evangelicals and politicians," according to The Guardian's Xan Rice, who notes that a 2009 bill, still under consideration by the Ugandan parliament, calls for life sentences for gay people and the death penalty for "repeat offenders." Under this "anti-homosexuality bill" non-gay Ugandans could also be punished for failing to report homosexual activity within 24 hours. Kato's murder has sparked outrage from various parts of the world as well as concern for other gay Ugandans who may be at risk.

  • 'A Sad Day for Gay Rights'  Blogging at Comments from Left Field, David Katz laments Kato's death as proof of the power of sexual discrimination in the developing world. "Today is a sad day for gay rights, and a reminder of how much work outside of much of the industrial world is needed to insure even the most basic rights for members of the gay community," he writes.
  • The US Should Get Involved  Emma Ruby-Sachs, an attorney, writes at the Huffington Post to urge the United States to "force the Ugandan government to stand up for its LGBT citizens," by threatening to cut off foreign aid to the African nation.
The violent pursuit of minorities is a familiar theme in world history. Too many times, the international community fails to act effectively to prevent violence, hate and genocide. Today, we are given the chance to avoid making the same mistake again.
The horror of David's last minutes of life must be matched by the effectiveness of our response. Only direct action by the U.S. government can change the fate of the thousands of Ugandan citizens under threat every day.We must accept nothing less.
  • American Evangelicals Are to Blame  Blogger Joe My God blames American evangelicals like Scott Lively, who visited Uganda and "encouraged locals to take a 'strictly biblical' attitude towards homosexuals," for the anti-gay bill, the "Hang Them" newspaper outtings, and now the murder of David Kato. He writes: "Lively and his American evangelical co-conspirators have the blood of David Kato on their hands. There's no other way to see it. They enabled this murder."
  • Treat Each Other With Respect  At the Johannesburg, South Africa Times Live blog, Common Dialogue predicts that since homosexuality is illegal in Uganda, "the chances of that country's police taking this case seriously are slim." He also expresses anger at the murder of a fellow African and appeals to Kato's countrymen not to treat each other as they were once treated by colonizers.  "Are Ugandans really free or their former white masters were merely replaced by black faces?" he asks. "As Africans we don't have to copy the west, but we should accord our people the same rights and freedoms we sought from our former colonial masters. There can never be real freedom without free individuals."
  • Don't Let This Happen Again  Brenda Namigadde, another openly gay Ugandan activist, had been studying abroad in the United Kingom when fear created by the anti-homosexuality bill and the provocative newspaper campaign prompted her to seek asylum there. Despite expressing a strong fear that her life would be endangered immediately upon return to Uganda, the UK denied Namigadde asylum. According to Lez Get Real blogger Melanie Nathan, Namigadde received a letter from the member of parliament who wrote the bill that seeks to execute homosexuals, warning that Namigadde would be welcomed back into the country only if she renounced her homosexuality. The blog, Harry's Place, argues that "surely in light of the murder of David Kato and a menacing message from a Ugandan legislator director personally at Brenda Namigadde, her deportation order must be revoked and her asylum case reviewed? Her life is at stake." The blog includes a petition to the British Home Secretary to block Namigadde's deportation.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.