Activist David Kato — LGBT History Month Day 18

 

Today’s LGBT History Month icon is Ugandan activist David Kato.

Credited as the founder of Uganda’s LGBT rights movement, Kato was an outspoken advocate for equality in a country that not only criminalizes but pursues LGBTs. Kato’s murder served to remind the world of the plight of LGBT people in Uganda and other African nations.

Biography via Equality Forum:

b. February 13, 1964

d. January 26, 2011

Kato and his twin brother were raised in a conservative family in a small Ugandan village.  He recalled being brainwashed to believe “it was wrong to be in love with a man.” He attended some of Uganda’s best schools before moving to South Africa in the mid-1990′s to pursue a teaching career.  Inspired by South Africa’s LGBT civil rights movement, Kato became an activist.

In 1998, intent on dismantling the homophobia, Kato returned to Uganda, where homosexuality is a crime punishable by up to 14 years imprisonment. Uganda’s minister of ethics and integrity stated, “Homosexuals can forget about human rights.”

Despite the risks, Kato held a televised news conference pressing for LGBT civil rights.  As a result, he suffered several arrests and beatings.

Undeterred but cautious, Kato continued to lead the movement while supporting himself as a teacher. In 2004, he cofounded Sexual Minorities Uganda Group (SMUG), Uganda’s first LGBT civil rights organization.

In 2009, the Ugandan legislature proposed a bill designating the death penalty for homosexuality. The following year, a Ugandan national newspaper published the names and photographs of gay rights activists, including Kato. It explicitly called for homosexuals to be executed by hanging.

Four months later, Kato was bludgeoned to death in his home. Local authorities claim his death had nothing to do with his sexual orientation.

In response to Kato’s death, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, “This crime is a reminder of the heroic generosity of the people who advocate for and defend human rights on behalf of the rest of us–and the sacrifices they make.”

Below you can see a Rachel Maddow segment covering David Kato’s murder and why this is very much an “American story”:

Bibliography:

  • Gettleman, Jeffrey. “David Kato, Gay Rights Activist, Is Killed in Uganda.” The New York Times. 27 January 2011.
  • Srinivasan, Sharath. “A Matter of Life and Death: The Struggle for Ugandan Gay Rights.” University of Cambridge. 27 January 2011.
  • ” Uganda gay activist David Kato.” BBC. 27 January 2011.
  • “Uganda: Promptly Investigate Killing of Prominent LGBT Activist.” Human Rights Watch. 27 January 2011.

Websites:

Image taken from the LGBT History Month video, no infringement intended.

11 comments

Jane H.
Jane H.5 years ago

What a brave hero---so many have died for this cause. So many transsexuals have been murdered just for being.

Dan(iel) M.
Dan(iel) M.5 years ago

Thanks for posting. What a true HERO, he stood for his beliefs in spite of the dangers and perils it put him in.

Wayne M.
Wayne M.5 years ago

David Kato is a hero, one who was prepared to give his life in love for the equality and human rights of all people – including LGBT people. Those who believe you can defend human rights and yet deny these rights to LGBT people are lying to themselves and others. One only has to look at countries such as Iran, Saudi Arabia and, Zimbabwe, where religious rights are also oppressed.

Thanks to men like David Kato, our world is a bit safer for everyone, not just LGBT people.

Wayne M.
Wayne M.5 years ago

David Kato is a hero, one who was prepared to give his life in love for the equality and human rights of all people – including LGBT people. Those who believe you can defend human rights and yet deny these rights to LGBT people are lying to themselves and others. One only has to look at countries such as Iran, Saudi Arabia and, Zimbabwe, where religious rights are also oppressed.

Thanks to men like David Kato, our world is a bit safer for everyone, not just LGBT people.

Chris M.
Chris M.5 years ago

Thanks so much for remembering this hero.

Kathy C.

RIP David Kato. You're a brave man, we'll remember you for speaking out!

Lilithe Magdalene

Thank you for posting this.

Norma V.
Norma Villarreal5 years ago

Thank you for sharing his life and contributions.

Anne Brabson
Anne B.5 years ago

Thanks for posting this remembrance of a brave man's contributions!

Robert O.
Robert O.5 years ago

He really was a brave activist and caring person that will be missed. Thanks Steve.