David Kato (Pic: Jocelyn Edwards)
Activists and communities around the world have marked the one year anniversary of the murder of leading Ugandan LGBT rights defender David Kato.
Kato was the advocacy officer for Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) and is considered one of the founders of Uganda’s LGBT human rights movement. He was bludgeoned to death with a hammer in his home on 26 January 2011.
Sidney Nsubuga Enoch was found guilty of murdering Kato and was sentenced to 30 years in jail. Nsubuga (22), who admitted to the crime, claimed that he attacked Kato after he made repeated sexual advances on him.
Considering the rampant homophobia in Uganda and a local tabloid newspaper having calling for gays and lesbians, including Kato, to be hanged, questions remain about Nsubuga’s motives and the circumstances of the murder.
Kato’s murder was condemned by world leaders, including President Obama and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
On Thursday, around 100 friends and activists, including Kato’s mother and sisters, gathered in Kampala for a memorial service, reported Behind The Mask.
Kato’s mother thanked his friends for the “love, care and compassion” they had shown her in the last year since her son’s death.
A mass was conducted by Retired Bishop Christopher Senyonjo, the head of the St. Paul Reconciliation and Equality Centre and US based pastor Joseph Tolton.
“The fear that was meant to be instilled in the Ugandan homosexual community after Kato’s death had been broken by God,” said Tolton.
Those in attendance took turns to honour Kato and the selfless work that he had done for the country’s beleaguered LGBT community.
AFP quoted Frank Mugisha, director of SMUG, as saying of Kato: “He always looked out for all of us even at times when we thought it was too difficult.”
Uganda’s LGBT community remains on tenterhooks over a proposed bill that would further criminalise homosexuality, which is already punishable by jail time. The Anti-Homosexuality Bill seeks to impose the death penalty in repeated cases of homosexuality and to punish those that do not report gays and lesbians to the police.
The Bill stalled in parliament last year and it remains unclear if it will be put to a vote this year.