Stop Anti-Gay/Lesbian Violence
National Gay Task Force
New York, NY
CSPG’s Poster-of-the-Week honors the life of David Kato Kisule, Ugandan LGBTQ activist who was brutally murdered with an axe in his home on January 26, 2011. He was 42 years old. Kato was murdered shortly after winning a lawsuit against a magazine which had published his name and photograph identifying him as gay and calling for him to be executed.
Kato was among the 100 people whose names and photographs were published in October 2009 by the Ugandan tabloid newspaper Rolling Stone (no connection to U.S. magazine with the same name) in an article which called for their execution as homosexuals.
Considered a father of Uganda's gay rights movement, Kato served as advocacy officer for Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG). Kato and two other SMUG members who were also listed in the article, sued the newspaper to force it to stop publishing the names and pictures of people it believed were gay or lesbian. The petition was granted on November 2, 2010, effectively ruling for the end of Rolling Stone. On January 3, 2011, the court ordered the newspaper to pay Kato and the other two plaintiffs 1.5 million Ugandan shillings each. Three weeks later he was murdered.
Family, friends and co-activists attended Kato's open-air funeral, many of whom wore t-shirts bearing his photo in front, the Latin la(sic) luta continua [the struggle continues] in the back, and the rainbow flag colors inscribed onto the sleeves. When the Christian minister at the funeral preached against the gays and lesbians present, exclaiming comparisons to Sodom and Gomorrah, the activists ran to the pulpit and grabbed the microphone from him. An unidentified female activist angrily exclaimed "Who are you to judge others?" When villagers sided with the preacher and refused to bury Kato he was buried by his friends and co-workers, most of whom were gay.
His murder has been condemned by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, President Barack Obama, the European Union and many others. "I am deeply saddened to learn of the murder," Obama said. "David showed tremendous courage in speaking out against hate. He was a powerful advocate for fairness and freedom."
For his newspaper's alleged role in the murder, Rolling Stone editor Giles Muhame stated "When we called for hanging of gay people, we meant ... after they have gone through the legal process ... I did not call for them to be killed in cold blood like he was." However, he stated that "I have no regrets about the story. We were just exposing people who were doing wrong."
The same hypocritical denial of responsibility has been heard from Sarah Palin, Fox News and the Tea Party after the shooting of Arizona Representative Gabrielle Giffords and others. Inflammatory visuals and rhetoric—whether it is placing cross-hairs over Democratic districts and calling for “Don’t Retreat, Instead Reload!” or running a headline that states, “Hang them” next to photos of 100 men and women identified as gays and lesbians—have consequences we must work to prevent.
Jimmy Somerville, David Kato memorial demonstration, Trafalgar Square, London, January 28, 2011.