David Kato, an openly gay human rights activist and advocacy officer at Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), was attacked in his home in Mukono, Uganda, on January 26, and died on his way to the hospital. Kato had received death threats since October, when a local newspaper, Rolling Stone, published his photo alongside a cover story that charged homosexuals with recruiting children. The baseless article advocated the hanging of homosexuals and printed the names and addresses of many bisexual, and transgender Ugandans, including Kato, who successfully sued the paper for violation of privacy.
Political Research Associates (PRA) condemns the murder of Kato and calls on U.S. human rights advocates to stop the export of homophobia to Uganda by American conservatives. “Kato’s murder is a heavy blow to the international human rights community,” said Rev. Kapya Kaoma, the director of PRA’s Project on Religion and Sexuality. He added, “Those U.S conservatives who have lit the brushfire of homophobia in Africa have to bear some responsibility for this tragic death and for the conflagration that now threatens to consume all gay Ugandans.”
The targeting of Kato and other LGBT Ugandans follows an intense demonization campaign fostered by right-wing Christian activists from the United States. A March 2009 conference in Kampala, Uganda, featured notorious American antigay campaigners, who promoted the idea of a sinister global homosexual conspiracy to corrupt Uganda. Conference speakers advocated parliamentary action to thwart this “international gay agenda.” The Holocaust revisionist Scott Lively, who charges homosexuals with perpetrating the Nazi Holocaust, spoke at the conference and then met with Ugandan lawmakers and government officials, some of whom drafted parliament’s infamous Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009. Still pending, the bill would require citizens to report homosexuals to the authorities on penalty of prison and would impose the death penalty for certain homosexual acts. Another influential antigay voice in Uganda, the U.S.pastor Rick Warren, has asserted that human rights don’t apply to LGBT Africans.
“The blood of David is on the hands of American preachers who came to Uganda,” said Frank Mugisha, the executive director of SMUG. “They share much of the blame for presenting us as less than human.”
Kaoma is the author of the groundbreaking PRA report, Globalizing the Culture Wars: U.S. Conservatives, African Churches, and Homophobia (2009), which documents the role of right-wing American activists in fomenting antigay campaigns in several African countries, including Uganda. Kato worked closely with PRA during Kaoma’s research trip to Uganda in 2009, where Kaoma attended and reported on the March antigay conference. Kato was an outspoken critic of Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill.