Targeted by gay-hate paper, then murdered in his home

Death of Ugandan homosexual rights activist followed threats and intimidation

A prominent gay rights activist, whose photo was printed on the front page of a Ugandan newspaper that called for homosexuals to be hanged, was bludgeoned to death at his home after weeks of death threats and harassment, colleagues said yesterday.

David Kato, one of a small number of openly gay campaigners in a country where homosexuality is illegal, was beaten with a hammer just three weeks after winning a court case against the newspaper. The victory prevented the publication from repeating stories similar to one in October that urged: "Hang Them" alongside a headline: "100 pictures of Uganda's top homos leak".

Amnesty International called for a "credible and impartial" investigation, saying the authorities had been silent about anti-gay discrimination.

Police said last night there was no indication the murder had anything to do with Mr Kato's sexual orientation and that he was killed by robbers responsible for the deaths of more than 10 people in the area in the past two months. One man had been detained and the weapon recovered; another was being hunted, the spokesman said.

A cleaner found Mr Kato barely alive on his bed with a trail of blood through his home suggesting that he had been attacked in one room and had unsuccessfully tried to flee, friends said. He died of head injuries on the way to hospital.

Mr Kato had featured prominently in the homophobic edition of the Ugandan tabloid, Rolling Stone. Friends and fellow campaigners told The Independent yesterday that he had been subjected to weeks of abuse, death threats and confrontations. Others featured on the list in the Rolling Stone – not connected to the US publication – have been driven out of their homes by stone-throwing mobs.

"There's been fear, but it's now reached a new level," said Pepe Julian Onziema, a fellow rights campaigner and one of two other people who brought the case against the newspaper. "People are really, really scared.

"Throughout the court case David was receiving threats, there were text messages and phone calls. I spoke to him less than an hour before he died to talk about security because we're all being harassed. Then I called him an hour later and his phone was off."

As well as naming gay Ugandans and printing their addresses, the newspaper also claimed in October that a deadly disease was attacking homosexuals, and that gays were recruiting one million children by raiding schools.

After Wednesday's killing, Giles Muhame, the editor of Rolling Stone, condemned the murder and said the paper had not wanted gays to be attacked. "If he has been murdered, that's bad and we pray for his soul," Muhame told Reuters. "There has been a lot of crime, it may not be because he is gay. We want the government to hang people who promote homosexuality, not for the public to attack them. We said they should be hanged, not stoned or attacked."

The article and the subsequent attacks are symptomatic of embedded anti-homosexuality in the conservative country where 85 per cent of the population are Christian. Homosexuality is illegal in 37 countries in Africa.

Mr Kato was a vocal opponent of a controversial bill that was introduced in parliament and proposed the death penalty for certain homosexual acts. It sparked widespread international condemnation and has not come up for vote. However the bill has been blamed for increasing anger against the homosexual community in Uganda.

The bill was drawn up after a visit to a conference in Uganda by Christian missionaries from the US who believed that some homosexuals could change their sexual orientation through prayer.

"David's death is a result of the hatred planted in Uganda by US evangelicals in 2009," according to a statement from Sexual Minorities Uganda, for whom Mr Kato worked as an advocacy officer. "The Ugandan government and the so-called US Evangelicals must take responsibility for David's blood."

Pepe Onziema claimed yesterday that police did not arrive and start their investigation until hours after Mr Kato's death. "Any persons suspected of involvement in the murder must be brought to justice in a fair trial which complies with international standards," said Michelle Kagari, Amnesty International's Deputy Director for Africa said.

Friends and colleagues described Mr Kato as a outspoken and brave campaigner. "He was one of the people who hadn't moved out of his home," said Dr Chris Dolan, from the Refugee Law Project in Kampala, which worked on the case against Rolling Stone. "His landlord had asked him to move out. That's what often happens once anyone is known to be gay because they're worried their property might be damaged."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
Phillips Idowu, Stella McCartney and Jessica Ennis
fashionMcCartney to continue designing Team GB Olympics kit until 2016
Sport
Shinji Kagawa and Reece James celebrate after the latter scores in Manchester United's 7-0 victory over LA Galaxy
football
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
Farah returns to the track with something to prove
Commonwealth games
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

Application Support Analyst (SQL, Incident Management, SLAs)

£34000 - £37000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Embedded Software / Firmware Engineer

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Pension, Holiday, Flexi-time: Progressive Recruitm...

Developer - WinForms, C#

£280 - £320 per day: Progressive Recruitment: C#, WinForms, Desktop Developmen...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism