On Wednesday 26th January 2010 David Kato – Ugandan Kuchu, activist, human rights defender, Man of courage, stubborn, intense, the real. He lived without trimmings literally and metaphorically. David lived his life on the edge with no protection from the sickening campaign of hate unleashed by political and religious leaders in Uganda and their supporters in the US and elsewhere.
So today i am writing about David and whatever I write it will not be enough to express my feelings for him or on his murder. I only met him in person exactly one year ago. He was in York on a human rights defender course. I was in London. He wanted to organise a tour speaking on the Ugandan anti-homosexuality Bill – the hate bill and thats how we came together. `He stayed with me a couple of times and we traveled to Canterbury, London and Manchester speaking about the Bill and LGBTIQ struggles on the continent. David was always cracking sarcastic jokes when he was speaking about the Bill. He traveled to Brussels where one woman asked him to wear a suit for his presentation. Where the fuck am I going to get a suit said David. Will they buy me a suit? Who do they think I am? David, intense, stubborn and not given to idle chat whether in person, on the phone or email. I would get intense abrupt emails informing me of the latest hate in Uganda, requesting information or discussing strategy or just what the fuck is this – whats wrong with these people?
A couple of weeks ago he asked me to find out about a suspected WSF money scam. I tried but did not get back to him in time so I know I didn’t try hard enough. David had been beaten up many times. He was constantly harassed, his home broken into. The last time this happened a few months ago he tried to raise some funds to make his home secure but it was not enough. This is no blame time – people do what they can when they can. It’s just a fact. He walked around with a dislocated shoulder in constant pain from a particularly severe beating – he tried to get it fixed in York but the NHS couldn’t or wouldn’t provide him with the treatment he needed.
Recently David together with Kasha Jacqueline and Pepe Onziema won a landmark case against the Ugandan tabloid, Rolling Stone who had published the names and photos of what it called “Ugandans top 100 homos” on October 2nd 2010 which also included the headline “Hang Them”. A number of the photos were ones used by activists on their Facebook profiles including David’s. The High Court ruled that Rolling Stone had “violated their constitutional rights to privacy and safety” and warned them and other news media not to repeat the outings. We do not yet know the exact details surrounding David’s murder but the fact that he has received repeated death threats since the Rolling Stone outing we see there are consequences to actions which actively encourage hatred.
The responsibility for the repeated harassment, beatings, death threats and now possibly his murder lies with all those members of Parliament, religious leaders both in Uganda, other countries on the continent and in the US, who have led the campaign of hate against LGBTIQ people: David Baharti, Red Pepper newspaper, Martin Ssempa, Ugandan Minister of Ethics Nsaba Buturu, Archbishop of Rwanda, Onesphore Rwaje , Archbishop Henry Orombi of Uganda, the All African Bishops Conference, Apolo Nsibambi of Uganda, Rev. Bernard Ntahoturi of Burundi, Archbishop Akinola and Nicholas Okoh of Nigeria, Peter Karamaga, the National Anti-Homosexual Task-force Uganda, President Museveni, Mrs Museveni, President Mugabe. Pastor Mulinde of Trumpet Church Uganda, Lou Engle, Rick Warren, Scott Lively and Dan Schmierer of the ex-gay group Exodus International, Jon Qwelane and President Jacob Zuma who sent him to Uganda, Bishop Lawrence Chai of Free Apostolic Churches of Kenya and Sheikh Ali Hussein of Masjid Answar Sunna Mosque. The African Union [AU] African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights who denied CAL observer status, all those who voted at the UN General Assembly Human Rights Committee to delete the reference to killings due to sexual orientation from a resolution condemning unjustified executions. And all those who hold positions of responsibility and power who refused to speak up against hatred.
The lives of all Ugandan Kuchus are now at risk – how will they be protected? Who will protect them? How will there be justice for David? One way is to ensure there is a sincere investigation into his murder including the role played by the homophobia of MPs and religious leaders and what must be done to protect others. Another is to speak about this as widely and as much as possible.
Condolences David’s family, his brothers and sisters at SMUG and to all those who knew and loved David.
Rest In Peace David, we remember you for your courage, honesty and unwavering commitment to the struggle for the right and dignity for all of us to be who we are. We remember you, David for the beautiful human being you were and you will always live in our hearts. We have lost a great activist and a great man
“Determined to struggle till a yard done to the journey of liberating the LGBTI community from the discrimination and oppressional laws in the name of sodomy!” David Kato