Saturday, January 26, 2013

David Kato: Ugandan LGBT rights activist (1964-2011)

“David Kato” by Rod Byatt

David Kato, Ugandan LGBT rights activist, is considered a father of Uganda’s gay rights movement. He  was beaten to death two years ago today (Jan. 26) in a case that some blame on anti-gay religious rhetoric.

David Kato
American evangelicals helped stir up the hostility that led to Kato’s death because they promoted a law imposing the death penalty for homosexuality. Shortly before his murder Kato won a lawsuit against a Ugandan magazine for identifying him as gay and calling for his execution.

The law never passed and Kato’s murderer was sentenced to 30 years in prison.  However, the anti-gay motive for the murder was covered up in the trial.

Australian artist Rod Byatt drew the portrait of David Kato above. The stark, unfinished quality of the portrait conveys the sense of a life cut short. Byatt posted it on his blog **gasp!** (Gay Artists’ Sketchbook Project) with a reflection that begins, “We grieve over the loss of David Kato. We know that being gay is anathema to Family, Church and State, and increasingly The Media...” Byatt is part of the Urban Sketching movement that seeks to link personal identity to broader social issues.

A documentary about Kato, “Call Me Kuchu,” premiered in 2012 at the Berlin Film Festival. Watch the trailer for the video below.  "Kuchu" is the term used in Uganda for LGBT people.

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

Below is a news video about Kato from “The Rachel Maddow Show.” It includes scenes from David’s funeral, where Ugandan clergy speak both for and against LGBT rights, and David’s own voice in an NPR interview about homosexuality in Uganda.

On the anniversary of his murder, may those who honor David Kato’s legacy continue to work for justice and equality for all. May he find peace with all the other LGBT martyrs and saints who have gone before.

Related links:

Activists, Filmmakers Mark First Anniversary of David Kato Murder (Towelroad)

Portrait of David Kato by Random Salmon

They will say we are not here (New York Times, Jan. 25, 2012)

Ugandan Activists Commemorate Anniversary of David Kato's Death (Advocate)

David Kato at Wikipedia

In Uganda, a “Fearless Voice” for Gay Rights is Brutally Silenced (Wild Reed Blog)

David Kato: A new Ugandan martyr (Queer Saints and Martyrs - And Others)

Martyrs of Uganda (Walking with Integrity Blog)

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