David Kato

Ugandan LGBT activist, David Kato, was found dead in his house on Wednesday 26th January 2011.

From the Daily Monitor:

Mr David Kisule Kato, 46, died after he was hit on the head by unknown assailants at his home in Mukono District on Wednesday. He died on his way to Mulago Hospital.

Detectives and scene of crime officers spent the day picking fingerprints on the furniture and interviewing neighbours of Kato.

Police said his attackers hit him with a hammer on the head at around noon on Wednesday before locking him in the house.

Deputy Police Spokesman Vincent Ssekate said they are taking the case seriously but asked the public to who have any information that may lead to the arrest of the suspects to contact them.

“Since the act happened during day, there may be people who saw the suspects entering the house. They should come and give us information,” he said.

Kato was listed among the 100 people suspected to be homosexuals in the country by the local tabloid Rolling Stone.

Asked whether they were taking it as an attack on minorities in the country, he said it is too early to reach that conclusion.

Residents told police that they saw a man who entered Kato’s house but he moved out dressed in victim’s shoes and a jacket that covered part of his face.

Their suspicions aroused, they told the police, and went to check on him in his house but found the door locked.

“They forced their way in and found Kato lying unconscious,” he said.

He later died as he was being transported to Mulago Hospital.

CNN has a report on this story, which includes a recent interview with the late Kato, who at the time of filming was already expressing fears about his safety:


Although most around the world see this as a hate crime, with many believing that exposure by the Rolling Stone (and its calls for Kato and 99 other homosexuals to be hanged) is what triggered the killing, it is still not yet clear what the motive behind the killing was. It could have been a hate crime, but it could also have been a theft/robbery gone bad, etc… We just don’t have all the facts for now. I do, however, condemn this murder in the strongest terms – regardless of why it was committed.

As the country grapples with the horror of this brutal killing, the death of David Kato will most likely to pave the way for more open discussions about homosexuals, whose rights Kato was a relentless advocate of. In fact, this is already happening. The Daily Monitor newspaper, the county’s second most widely circulated daily, today published an editorial piece called  ‘Can we talk honestly about homosexuality?’ In it, the editor writes:

Holding puritanical and extreme views on the matter, whether liberal or conservative, will divide us, rather than help us find a mutually acceptable compromise.

People like David Kato and others who might be gay are Ugandans and enjoy the same rights and protections of the law as heterosexuals. We cannot send them into exile neither, lock them away, or hang them.

We need to have an honest discussion about how to ensure that their rights are upheld without violating the rights of other Ugandans.

Peaceful and stable societies only emerge when we understand and try to accommodate those who are different from us, or who disagree with us – not by ostracising or killing them.

Well said, editor.

In the meantime we at Freethought Kampala offer our deepest condolences to the family, friends and compatriots of David Kato.

He was a brave man – with the courage to stand up for his rights, and the rights of others, in face of the horrendous homophobia that has consumed Ugandan society in recent years. Many Ugandan gays and lesbians choose to remain anonymous out of concern for personal safety, so by bringing himself into the limelight, he risked it all… But he and others who have come forward have helped to put a human face to a hitherto invisible and faceless minority.

David Kato will not be forgotten, and those of us who, like him, recognise the importance of defending the fundamental human rights of others, should continue spreading the message of tolerance.

As Freethought Kampala we also consider it our obligation and mandate to publicly challenge the misinformation being disseminated, and lies being told, about gays and lesbians by local religious leaders. The widely discredited views of quacks like Scott Lively, Richard Cohen and David Cameron whose literature form the talking points of many a homophobic Ugandan politician, such as David Bahati or Nsaba Buturo, shall be exposed as such.

We will not stop.

The hatred must end.

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