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Topics In the News
Remembering David Kato
Posted by: Claude J. Summers on 01/26/12
Last updated on: 01/26/12
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David Kato.

The first anniversary of the murder of Ugandan activist David Kato has been marked by a gathering in Kampala to honor the martyred leader. In addition, filmmakers Katherine Fairfax Wright and Malika Zouhali-Worrall have released portions of their documentary about his life and work.

At a gathering in Kampala on January 26, 2012, activists braved hostile reactions as they marked the first anniversary of Kato's death.

"We are here to celebrate and thank God for our beloved friend and human rights activist David Kato," former Anglican bishop and gay rights campaigner Christopher Senyonjo told a crowd of around 100 activists and family members, according to a report in the Vancouver Sun.

On January 25, 2011, Kato was bludgeoned to death by a man who repeatedly struck him with a steel hammer. The murder is widely believed to have been inspired by the anti-gay agitation of American Evangelical Christians who encouraged Uganda's infamous "kill the gays" legislation that mandates capital punishment for "aggravated homosexuality."

As Val Kalende, a lesbian activist and board chair of Freedom and Roam Uganda, a non-governmental organization (NGO) that fights violence against glbtq people in Uganda, said in a statement issued shortly after the murder, "David's death is a result of the hatred planted in Uganda by U.S. Evangelicals in 2009."

Kato's murder came after a tabloid newspaper published names and photos of men it alleged were gay under a headline that screamed, "Hang Them!"

Ugandan authorities, however, have continued to insist that Kato's murder was unrelated to his campaign for gay rights. In November 2011, they announced that Sydney Nsubuga Enoch had been convicted of the murder and sentenced to thirty years in prison.

The trial of Nsubuga was conducted in secret and under a veil of mystery. Upon learning of Nsubuga's conviction, activist Frank Mugisha posted on his Facebook page, "It is disheartening that this trial happened secretly and hurriedly with out any one knowing about it and leaves many questions unanswered."

In an op-ed at Advocate.com shortly after the conviction, Op-ed: Demonizing David Kato, Melanie Nathan, a lawyer and human rights activist who was a friend of Kato, pointed out that the secret trial was used to defame Kato: the prosecutor in the case "chose to believe the story of a confessed killer who probably thought he would receive leniency--and possibly become a hero--if he inserted into his story that Kato had made a demand for homosexual sex."

"The story advanced by the prosecutor at sentencing has done little more than perpetuate the myth that gays are trying to recruit straight people into homosexuality. It feeds into the lie that Ugandans--and in particular their children--are in grave danger unless homosexuality is criminalized."

Nathan concluded that "Nothing will stop us from remembering the real David Kato, the fervent activist who fought with courage while knowing his life was at great risk. David Kato died for his cause."

The directors of the new film Call Me Kuchu, which will premiere at the Berlin Film Festival on February 11, 2012, have posted a portion of it on the New York Times website, describing it as offering "a perspective on the inner world that David shared with us, a world teeming with passion and relentless determination, good humor and vivid daydreams."

Here is a trailer for Call Me Kuchu.

Call Me Kuchu - Trailer from Call Me Kuchu on Vimeo.

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