Ugandan Activist murdered
I was horrified this morning to receive an email telling me that David Kato, the advocacy officer for Sexual Minorities Uganda, was murdered in his home in Kampala yesterday, a short while after a Ugandan ‘newspaper’ Rolling Stone (no relation to Jann Wenner’s iconic title) published his name in an ‘expose’ of ‘Uganda’s Top Homo’s’, which called for their executions and published their addresses.
David, along with two other activists, had just this month obtained an injunction against that newspaper in order to prevent them from continuing this series. I wonder what the connection is?
“David has been receiving death threats since his face was put on the front page of Rolling Stone, which called for his death and the death of all homosexuals,” said SMUG. “David’s death comes directly after the Supreme Court of Uganda ruled that people must stop inciting violence against homosexuals and must respect the right to privacy and human dignity.”
I spoke last year with David on a very crackly phoneline from Uganda where he was involved in battling what was then the looming Anti-Gay Bill which would have further criminalized gay people and their friends and colleagues in that East central African country.
It was a sleazy, spiteful, pernicious and draconian piece of legislation which would have not only threatened gay people with the death penalty, it also contained clauses which said that anyone who knew of a ‘homosexual crime’ had 24 hours to report it to the authorities or face a prison sentence themselves.
I asked him what would happen if the law passed. He said, “If the bill passes, within 24 hours they will be arresting people they know to be gay. People will go into hiding. Gay people will go further underground. Anyone who works advocating for gay rights will leave the country.”
There was an international outcry and the bill seems to have been quietly put down – though it could possibly still be brought forward.
David, along with Frank Mugisha and a few others stood up regardless of whether they were recognized in public, at great personal cost and said no – and campaigned openly against the bill.
I am desperately sad that this is indeed the cost that David has paid.
Apparently David was affectionately known as ‘grandfather of the kuchus’ – as gay men in Kampala call themselves. Uganda and the international community has lost a brave and valued man. My best wishes and heartfelt sympathy goes to all his friends, family and colleagues in Uganda – and everywhere that people have to make a stand in order to free themselves.