We have learned that Ugandan LGBT advocate David Kato Kisulle was murdered today at his home in Kampala. Frank Mugisha of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) has confirmed that the David’s body was identified at a hospital.
The details surrounding his murder are unknown at this time. He was reportedly beaten in the skull with a hammer at his home. We do not yet know whether it was a single assailant or a group of people, nor do we know any other circumstances surrounding his death.
David Kato was a spokesperson for Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) and one of the plaintiffs (or applicants) in the successful lawsuit seeking a permanent injunction against the Ugandan tabloid Rolling Stone (no relation to the U.S. publication of the same name). Kato was one of three applicants who had been named by the tabloid under a headline tagged “Hang Them!”
From an AlertNet article dated January 14, 2011, after the Ugandan High Court ruled that constitutional rights of LGBTI Ugandans were violated by the tabloid publishing their names:
Giles Muhame, the editor of Rolling Stone, denied that he was using his magazine to incite violence, and said that he would continue his campaign against homosexuals. He said that the apparent increase in gay activism in the country was a sign that the days of homosexuality were coming to an end.
“You know the noise that a chicken makes when a kite has snatched its chicks? This is it,” he said. [Note from Matt: It took me 30 minutes to realize that gays were the predator in Muhame’s analogy.]
David Kato, one of the plaintiffs, said that he had been living in terror ever since he was named by the newspaper.
“Since we got exposed by Rolling Stone, we have been living like fugitives in our own country,” he said. “We have to keep shifting houses for fear of being attacked. Some of the gays have decided to leave the city and head to rural areas in order to protect themselves.
Human rights lawyers say that mob justice meted out against suspected gays is fairly common. Just before Christmas, two alleged gay men were attacked by a mob at Maekerere University in Kampala. The gay men were subsequently arrested, and they are now waiting to hear whether formal charges will be brought against them.
I hope and pray that David Kato’s assassination help the international community understand the present terror in Uganda.