David Kato (Pic: Jocelyn Edwards)
A US embassy cable from Uganda, leaked by Wikileaks, has revealed that slain activist David Kato was mocked at a UN sponsored meeting.
The meeting was held in Kampala in December 2009 to debate the notorious and still-pending Anti-Homosexuality Bill.
According to the Guardian newspaper, a US diplomat reported in the cable that a member of the Ugandan Human Rights Commission “openly joked and snickered” with supporters of the bill as Kato gave a speech.
The diplomat described the speech as well-written, but noted that Kato delivered it badly because of “his evident nervousness”.
Other leaked cables from a period between 2009 and 2010 paint a picture of growing homophobia in Uganda as activists became increasingly concerned about their safety.
Referring to the author of the anti-homosexuality bill, MP David Bahati, the diplomat wrote that, “his homophobia… is blinding and incurable”.
“Bahati, [Uganda’s minister for ethics and integrity, David] Buturo, and particularly [anti-gay Pastor Martin] Ssempa’s ability to channel popular anger over Uganda’s socio-political failings into violent hatred of a previously unpopular but tolerated minority is chilling,” the diplomat said.
Kato, a leading LGBT rights activist with Sexual Minorities Uganda, was bludgeoned to death with a hammer in his home at the end of January. It remains unclear if his murder was tied to his activism and/or sexuality.