Thursday, January 27, 2011

GAY ACTIVIST murdered in Uganda


Ugandan Gay Rights Activist Is Beaten to Death

Associated Press
In October 2010, Rolling Stone, a newspaper in Kampala, published photographs of gay Ugandans. Included was one of David Kato, a gay activist, who was killed on Wednesday.
NAIROBI, Kenya — David Kato knew he was a marked man.
Multimedia
As the most outspoken gay rights advocate in Uganda, a country where homophobia is so severe that Parliament is considering a bill to execute gay people, he had received a stream of death threats, his friends said. A few months ago, a Ugandan newspaper ran an antigay diatribe with Mr. Kato’s picture on the front page under a banner urging, “Hang Them.”
On Wednesday afternoon, Mr. Kato was beaten to death with a hammer in his rough-and-tumble neighborhood. Police officials were quick to chalk up the motive to robbery, but the small and increasingly besieged gay community in Uganda suspects otherwise.
“David’s death is a result of the hatred planted in Uganda by U.S evangelicals in 2009,” said Val Kalende, the chairwoman of one of Uganda’s gay rights groups, in a statement. “The Ugandan government and the so-called U.S. evangelicals must take responsibility for David’s blood.”
Mrs. Kalende was referring to visits in March 2009 by a group of American evangelicals, who held rallies and workshops in Uganda discussing how to make gay people straight, how gay men sodomized teenage boys and how “the gay movement is an evil institution” intended to “defeat the marriage-based society.”
The Americans involved said they had no intention of stoking a violent reaction. But the antigay bill came shortly thereafter. Some of the Ugandan politicians and preachers who wrote it had attended those sessions and said that they had discussed the legislation with the Americans.
After growing international pressure and threats from a few European countries to cut assistance — Uganda relies on hundreds of millions of dollars of aid — Uganda’s president, Yoweri Museveni, indicated that the bill would be scrapped.
But more than a year later, that has not happened and the legislation remains a simmering issue in Parliament. Some observers think the bill could be passed in the coming months, after a general election in February that is expected to return Mr. Museveni, who has been in office for 25 years, to power.
On Thursday, Don Schmierer, one of the American evangelicals who visited in Uganda in 2009, said Mr. Kato’s death was “horrible.”
“Naturally, I don’t want anyone killed, but I don’t feel I had anything to do with that,” said Mr. Schmierer, who added that in Uganda he had focused on parenting skills. He also said he had been a target of threats himself, recently receiving more than 600 pieces of hate mail related to his visit.
“I spoke to help people,” he said, “and I’m getting bludgeoned from one end to the other.”
Many Africans view homosexuality as an immoral Western import, and the continent is full of harsh homophobic laws. In northern Nigeria, gay men can face death by stoning. In Kenya, which is considered one of the more westernized African nations, gay people can be sentenced to years in prison.
But Uganda seems to be on the front lines of this battle. Conservative Christian groups that espouse antigay beliefs have made great headway in Uganda and wield considerable influence. Uganda’s minister of ethics and integrity, James Nsaba Buturo, a devout Christian, has said, “Homosexuals can forget about human rights.”
At the same time, American organizations that defend gay rights have also poured money into Uganda to help beleaguered gay men and women.
In October, a Ugandan newspaper called Rolling Stone (with a circulation of roughly 2,000 and no connection to the American music magazine) published an article that included photos and whereabouts of gay people, including several well-known activists like Mr. Kato.
The paper said gay people were raiding schools and recruiting children, a belief that is quite widespread in Uganda and has helped drive the homophobia.
Mr. Kato and a few other gay activists sued the paper and won. This month, Uganda’s High Court ordered Rolling Stone to pay hundreds of dollars in damages and to cease publishing the names of people it said were gay.
But the danger remained.
“I had to move houses,” said Stosh Mugisha, a woman who is going through a transition to become a man. “People tried to stone me. It’s so scary. And it’s getting worse.”
On Thursday, Giles Muhame, Rolling Stone’s managing editor, said he did not think Mr. Kato’s killing had anything to do with what his paper had published.
“There is no need for anxiety or for hype,” he said. “We should not overblow the death of one.”
That one man was considered a founding father of Uganda’s nascent gay rights movement. In an interview in 2009, Mr. Kato shared his life story, how he was raised in a conservative family where “we grew up brainwashed that it was wrong to be in love with a man.”
He was a high school teacher who had graduated from some of Uganda’s best schools and he moved to South Africa in the mid-1990s, where he came out. A few years ago, he organized what he claimed was Uganda’s first gay rights news conference in Kampala, Uganda’s capital, and said he was punched in the face and cracked in the nose by policemen soon afterward.
Friends said Mr. Kato had recently put an alarm system in his house and was killed by an acquaintance, someone who had been inside several times before and was seen by neighbors on Wednesday. Mr. Kato’s neighborhood on the outskirts of Kampala is known as a rough one, where several people have recently been beaten to death with iron bars.
Judith Nabakooba, a police spokeswoman, said Mr. Kato’s death did not appear to be a hate crime, though the investigation has just started. “It looks like theft, as some things were stolen,” Mrs. Nabakooba said.
But Nikki Mawanda, a friend, who was born female and lives as a man, said: “This is a clear signal. You don’t know who’s going to do it to you.”
Mr. Kato was in his mid-40s, his friends said. He was a fast talker, fidgety, bespectacled, slightly built and constantly checking over his shoulder, even in the envelope of darkness of an empty lot near a disco, where he was interviewed in 2009.
He said he wanted to be a “good human rights defender, not a dead one, but an alive one.”
Josh Kron contributed to this report from Juba, Sudan.
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16 comments:

JustinO'Shea said...

"J" posted this in another place. . it fits here also. . .

J said...

Please note that the religious right's control over the Republican Party has slipped since our looming economic implosion has taken center stage, largely because they haven't been able to control the majority of the Tea Party movement. The Tea Partiers are mad about government spending, and want to preserve the purity of their message. But if you're looking for an example of the harm these religious nuts have wrought in the world, check out their influence in Uganda. They held a conference there to support efforts to keep in place Uganda's very draconian laws against the gay community that provide, inter alia, death for those who engage in homosexual acts. Prominent gay activist David Kato was hammered to death in his home yesterday, prompting a warning to the Ugandan government by Secretary of State Clinton. I guess this is the religious right's idea of working for Jesus.
January 27, 2011 5:33 PM

jimm said...

“We should not overblow the death of one.”

So where does it stop? 2, 3, 50 deaths? Hundreds? Thousands?

Stew said...

I was recently at a church that I had heard was pretty progressive. Thier marquis out front read "The battle is not yours - It is the Lords"
During the memorial service, the pastor praised the man whom had died at 97 years old in one sentance and preached to the crowd about how if they did not live a life of certain rules, they would certainly die an early and horrible death.
I'm left wondering, Is that a threat? And Why are we in any battle?

Not all Christians believe this way, Thank God! But this certainly gives Christianity a bad name.

I believe the real war is inside the church and those that do not believe this way need to stand up and don't let these people speek for you.
One death is too much!

J said...

You can rest assured that Kato's death will not merit an unbiased investigation. It will undoubtedly be blamed on a common burglar, the better to preserve the government's stream of foreign aid. But with tabloids like the one you have reprinted it won't be long before all the gay community will find its way into Idi Amin's old stew pot.

Gary Kelly said...

The BBC's Joshua Mmali, in Kampala, says it is unclear whether the death is linked to the
Rolling Stone campaign but police have said there is no connection between Mr Kato's activism and his death. The police say that though they have arrested one suspect, the main suspect - who they say lived with Mr Kato - remains on the run.

Banister said...

Ok. First off, whether or not the government is homophobic or not, not more money for Africa. Period. There is not one single country in the whole continent that wasn't better off under colonial rule, and if they want to be independent, then let them be so without our money. The whole place is a cesspool of corruption and mis-rule by oligarchies, and not the product of colonialism.

I read a quotation by an African who wrote, "The problem of colonialism is not that it existed, but that it did not exist for long enough."

I know this is going to generate a shit-storm of comments and abuse, but I'm beginning to think the onlythat the only people on Earth capable of understanding democracy and trying to get it to work are Western Europeans. And yes, I'll say it... white people.

Just look at the place once called Rhodesia. Then they put the apes in charge of the zoo and we got... Zimbabwe.

JustinO'Shea said...

GARY. . .when there is further from the BBC please let us know. . . .I hadn't seen the part about one of the suspects living with Mr Kato.

A hammer. . . .huh??????

JustinO

JustinO'Shea said...

And ho there lil' Banister. . .you go boy! you're quite the shit kicker! hmmm. . LOL. Y'ever kick up shit. . .for real? haha. . "iam faetet. . .it stinketh.".. badly.

J said...

Three days ago Sen. Rand Paul called for the elimination of all foreign aid. When CNN pressed him about our "special relationship" with Israel and asked if we should eliminate that too, he had the courage to say yes. I don't know if all foreign aid should be eliminated, but we might consider how the Chinese are handling it. They don't mind bribing the Africans so long as they can get their hands on Africa's minerals. We want influence, but we seem to place too much emphasis on the outmoded and naive notion that we can inculcate western democracy and values into cultures that have no desire to embrace them. I wonder if any of these do gooders ever read Conrad's Heart of Darkness.
The policy of the last two administrations that we should promote democracy and freedon is having an interesting effect in the Maghreb, Egypt and Lebanon. Lebanon has come under Iran's spell. It will be interesting if the outgoing tyrants are replaced by Islamic fundamentalists. This is, in part, our all-too-borrowed money at work.
The libertarians in Congress are looking better and better to me.

Coop said...

Bannister, you've made some great points about the situation in Africa.

The indigenous societies in Africa are not democratic. And some had no tolerance for each other at all.
Other tribes = subhuman.
That could explain the apartheid and the current situation with Gbagbo in Ivory Coast.

I can't agree that ONLY white people understand Democracy. Maybe, *gasp* some places just don't want it.

J said...

And that's it, Gary. They'll blame it on "Kato's catamite"! That will make a great headline for their rag.

Gary Kelly said...

Goodie! A bit of controversy!

I agree with Banister about counties like Uganda and Zimbabwe. On the other hand, you have a man like Nelson Mandela who rescued South Africa from apartheid. Mandela emerged from 25 years of imprisonment with not an ounce of hate in his heart.

And not all races are tarred with the same brush. Barack Obama is not white. Hitler and Stalin were not black.

J also makes a valid point about some cultures not having any desire to embrace western values.

Seems to me that each situation needs to be dealt with on a case by case basis... there's no one size fits all.

Forget generalizations. They don't work.

JustinO'Shea said...

The remark has been made in latter years about our sharing "democracy' with these 'underdeveloped nations'. ."why don't we just give it to them, no strings attached? We haven't use/lived it in years!"

Again I have seen little evidence they want to be like us in too many things. How do you arbitrarily make democratic nations out of small tribal alliances?

justinO

J said...

Mandala may be a gentleman, Gary, but the two idiots who have succeeded him show some of the same traits as have other African miscreants. The current president of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, has five wives, 20 children and various love children. He is under constant investigation because of corruption, but has since 2005 has had rape and corruption charges against him dismissed. He believes that same sex marriage is "a disgrace to the nation and to God", that the African National Congress would rule South Africa until the second coming of Christ, and that ANC leadership was what God wanted. How's that for progress?

Coop said...

I'm not sure if I used the right term when I talked about Apartheid.
I was talking about the genocides in Darfur/Sudan and Rwanda.

Gary Kelly said...

If you want to know what God wants, never ask a human being. You'll only be confused.