Gay rights activist beaten to death in home

By benim
In East Africa
Jan 27th, 2011
1 Comment
26 Views

One of Uganda’s most high-profile gay rights activists has been bludgeoned to death in his home after winning a court victory over a tabloid that called for homosexuals to be killed.

Witnesses reported seeing a man fleeing David Kato’s home in the capital Kampala, shortly before the activist’s body was found.

Mr Kato worked for the Sexual Minorities Uganda rights group and was one of a team of activists who took action against the country’s Rolling Stone newspaper.

The tabloid had been running a campaign naming and showing photos of people it claimed were homosexual, and last year it carried a picture of Mr Kato on its front page along with a headline reading “Hang them”.

Three weeks ago, Uganda’s High Court granted a permanent injunction stopping the newspaper from carrying on its outing campaign.

Amnesty International has expressed shock at Mr Kato’s death.

“The human rights community, the diplomatic community, all of us are in absolute shock and trying to find out as much information as we can so that whatever responses we take, including security of the rest of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community, is the appropriate action,” spokeswoman Michelle Kagari said.

Mr Kato and other activists had warned of increased harassment since the court ruling.

Ms Kagari says homophobia in Uganda has been on the rise largely because of action being taken by political leaders and a number of church evangelists.

“The climate right now and for the last year and a half has been of increasing hostility,” she said.

“We’ve had members of churches coming out very strongly against homosexuality and we’ve had the tabloid newspapers publishing pictures and details of perceived homosexuals, and the latest, which was the Rolling Stone tabloid, was actively calling for them to be hanged.”

An anti-homosexuality bill currently before parliament calls for gays and lesbians to be jailed for life.

Local media in Uganda is yet to report on Mr Kato’s murder. His funeral will take place tomorrow.

Human rights organisations are calling for a real and substantive investigation into his killing.

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