The Economist’s Obituary of David Kato

The Britsh news magazine, The Economist, devotes an obituary page each week to a significant person. This week, David Kato was featured:

In Mr Kato’s mind there were only two ways to deal with being gay in Uganda. The first was to hide, to seek the dark. This was how he had first encountered the gay scene in Kampala in the late 1990s, after hearing rumours of a night party in some gardens outside the city and deciding he had to gatecrash. The party hosts, suspicious of his eagerness, gave him the wrong address; they did not want him to find this secret, illegal gathering among the trees. When he gave interviews to Western media it was often in dark alleys or deserted bars, face shadowy and close to the camera, or on some red-dirt road out of town, while he kept nervously walking.

The second way of being gay, however, was to be out and proud. This was what he preferred, despite the risks. In 1998, just back from a few years of teaching in South Africa—where he had seen apartheid fall, and the old anti-sodomy laws with it, and had decided at last to admit his homosexuality—he held a televised press conference to start the push for gay rights in his own country. The police beat him up afterwards, the first of several beatings (he would show the scars on his head, where bottles had been broken on him), and arrested him, the first of three arrests. Not deterred, in 2004 he co-founded Sexual Minorities Uganda to campaign against the anti-homosexuality bill and general prejudice. He was the group’s litigation officer, partly because he knew his way round the mazes of the law, but mostly because he was loud, impatient, demanding, angry (too much so, when the beer got to him), and didn’t care that his face was now “Gay Uganda” for the tabloids. . . .

Police assumed that when Mr Kato was bludgeoned to death with a hammer, on the afternoon of January 26th, he was just another victim in a series [of attacks in a rough part of town]. Gay groups blamed the tabloids for incitement. Neighbours, hanging about, noticed with surprise that his blood on the walls looked much the same as theirs.




AMERICAblog Gay

—  David Taffet