Friday, January 28, 2011

On David Kato

David Kato (Photo: Frontline, CAHR)
Gukira has one of the best (as always), most thoughtful and considerate memorial posts I've read on David Kato (Kisule), the Ugandan teacher and LGBT rights activist, who had served as advocacy officer for Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG).

Kato was brutally beaten to death in his home on Wednesday, January 26, 2011. As the New York Times reports, Kato was one of a number of people Rolling Stone, a notorious Ugandan newspaper, identified as "homosexual" and targeted under the banner "Hang Them." He had been repeatedly threatened and attacked over the years, and had just won a legal decision against Rolling Stone. Uganda’s High Court ordered the magazine financially compensate those it had attacked and to stop publishing the names of people it claimed were gay.

His murder also occurred within the context of Uganda's parliamentary debates about making homosexuality a capital crime, a move directly fostered by US evangelicals, as the Times reported early in January of this year.  In fact it was shortly after a 2009 visit by US evangelicals that Uganda's Parliament began pushing a law to capitalize being gay, though pressure from the US led Ugandan president Yoweri Musaveni to disavow the law. It nevertheless could still be enacted. (Here's the Times's presentation of the views of four Ugandans, including a transman, on the issue.)

I won't even try to reprise Gukira's post, but I'll just quote a small section:
A quick look at his Facebook page tells one story. Early this morning, messages from January 3 and 4 congratulated David on the win against the Ugandan Rolling Stone. Just above them, expressions of loss and solidarity, of love and courage, of mourning. This juxtaposition enacts a certain kind of work to which I hope to return in this edit.

From what I know, which is to say, from the available evidence, it is not clear that a direct line can be traced from David’s activism to his murder. I write this not to be contrary, but because I think it’s important to be judicious, to be contextual. Simultaneously, and just as importantly, there is no evidence that his murder was not a result of his activism. For now, his death remains something that can be used in any number of ways.

Please do read the rest.

RIP, David Kato (1964-2011)

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