David Kato, one of the most prominent spokespeople for gay rights in Uganda, has been murdered.
David was one of several LGBT individuals targeted by a recent campaign by Rolling Stone, a small Ugandan newspaper.
The paper published the names and whereabouts of several people as part of an article which called for them to be hanged, and repeated the hoary homophobic slander that gays were infiltrating schools to “recruit” children. Kato and others successfully sued the paper, which has denied any connection between its campaign and Kato’s death.
The murder comes against the backdrop of an ongoing climate of homophobia in Uganda and many other African countries. In 2009, Uganda’s parliament considered a bill that would have made homosexuality punishable by death. Kato was at the forefront of campaigning against the proposal. Uganda has also been targeted by American evangelical groups who have visited the country to run workshops on how to “turn” gay people straight. Many Ugandan activists blame the evangelists for helping stoke up anti-gay hatred.
Ugandan police are claiming that Kato’s murder was connected to a robbery rather than hate-crime. Even in the ludicrously-unlikely case that this claim is true, the tragic fact is that the struggle for LGBT liberation has lost one of its bravest activists on a front where brave activists are perhaps most needed.
It is disgraceful that anyone, anywhere in the world, should be killed or in any way harmed because of their sexuality. If we want to honour David Kato’s memory and activism, we should work to ensure that the disgraces and outrages that permeate capitalist society are consigned to history.