Just as Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) claimed Matthew Shepard’s hate-crime murder was the by-product of a robbery, police in Kampala, Uganda, are calling LGBT activist David Kato’s brutal death-by-bludgeoning a so-called robbery-related death.
Kato’s murder on Wednesday can be described as being delivered by a classically raging, homophobic murderer, who repeatedly delivered blows to Kato’s body from the head of a steel hammer, and speaks more troublingly about America’s Christian right-wing hatred and intolerance of gays, than of the Ugandan people themselves.
Val Kalende, a lesbian activist and board chair of Freedom and Roam Uganda, a non-governmental organization (NGO) that fights violence against LGBT people in Uganda, issued a statement Thursday asserting that “David’s death is a result of the hatred planted in Uganda by U.S. Evangelicals in 2009.”
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued a statement Thursday afternoon, calling for Ugandan authorities “to quickly and thoroughly investigate and prosecute those responsible for this heinous act.” She recognized the rulings of the Uganda Human Rights Commission and its Supreme Court in support of Ugandan gays rights, and went on to make clear that LGBT rights are human rights by calling on the International Community to “[s]peak out against the discrimination, harassment, and intimidation of Uganda’s LGBT community, and work together to ensure that all individuals are accorded the same rights and dignity to which each and every person is entitled.”
Proclaiming “LGBT rights are not special rights; they are human rights,” President Obama Thursday also released a statement saying, “David showed tremendous courage in speaking out against hate. He was a powerful advocate for fairness and freedom. The United States mourns his murder, and we recommit ourselves to David’s work.”
As I wrote in “UN Vote Allowing Gays To Be Executed Result Of Political, Religious Fundamentalism,” since the 1980s, massive numbers of Christian fundamentalist missionaries, many if not most from the United States, have flooded the African continent in search of new converts to their retrogressive and narrow beliefs.
“The Family”–also known as “the Fellowhship”– is a powerful and covert sect of American Christian evangelical politicians and ministers who seek a decidedly anti-gay extreme Christian agenda both at home and abroad, and through its words put this hammer in the hands of all potentially intolerant Ugandans.
Enabled by President Lt. Gen. Yoweri Kaguta Musevani and his wife Janet Kataha, Ugandan parlimentarian David Bahati, (who in 2009 said, “Homosexuality it is not a human right,”) last year introduced a “kill the gays” bill which remains under active consideration. All are believed to be members of Ugandas’ Christian right wing “Family,” according to Jeff Sharlet, author of The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, a tour de force exposé of “The Fellowship,” published in 2008.
Sharlet has appeared on MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Show, as well as on National Public Radio to discuss the shadowy “Family” sect that has included well-known evangelical minister Rick Warren, who delivered the invocational prayer at President Barack Obama’s inauguration in January 2009, much to the chagrin of LGBT activists.
Sharlet has authored a second book on the Family, entitled C Street: The Fundamentalist Threat to American Democracy, considered a deeper exploration of related sex scandals of Family-backed Republican politicians in Washington, D.C. It provides additional revelations about The Family’s role in the Ugandan government’s anti-gay reactions, which have brought rebukes from the Ugandan Supreme Court, but have also elicited a refusal by Rick Warren to condemn the Ugandan ”kill the gays” proposed legislation, along with a dubious claim that Warren had “nothing to do” with the anti-gay bill.
New York Times best-selling author Frank Schaeffer writes in “Evangelicals Implicated When Ugandan Gay Rights Activist Was Beaten to Death,” that the ”story of the Ugandan legislation to kill gays for being gay was intertwined with the Family and also with representatives of the wider “respectable” American Evangelical community. According to many pressreports, the genesis of the antihomosexual Ugandan bill may be traced to a three-day seminar in Kampala in March 2009 called “Exposing the Truth Behind Homosexuality and the Homosexual Agenda.” This seminar was led by Evangelical leader and hero to the Religious Right Scott Lively. He is best known for his Holocaust revisionist book The Pink Swastika, which claims homosexuals founded the Nazi party and were responsible for death camp atrocities.”
“According to sources who attended the conference (and who were later widely quoted in the press), Lively told his Kampala audience, “I know more about this [homosexuality] than almost anyone in the world. The gay movement is an evil institution. The goal of the gay movement is to defeat the marriage-based society and replace it with a culture of sexual promiscuity.” The results of the seminar were dramatic. “The community has become very hostile now,” Frank Mugisha, executive director of Sexual Minorities Uganda, said in an interview. “We have to watch our backs very much more than before because the community thinks if the Ugandan government is not passing the law, they will deal with [gay] people on their own.”
Lesbian About To Be Deported — Back To Uganda — Says, “I’ll Be Tortured, Or Killed”
Meanwhile, Ugandan lesbian activist Brenda Namigadde awaits eminent deportation within the next 24 hours from London to Kampala because a British immigration court claims it could not ascertain her lesbian status, despite affidavits submitted by three relatives attesting to her lesbian sexual orientation. Only 29 years old, Namigadde fled Uganda when she was 19, after her romantic relationship with a Canadian woman was discovered. They were beaten and their house was subsequently burned down.
In light of Kato’s murder, according to The Guardian, Namigadde fears for her life, which she believes is over.
Let’s hope the British immigration system recognizes that sending Brenda Namigadde back to Uganda would surely be a death sentence. I leave you with the words of Freedom and Roam Uganda’s Val Kallende, who posted these comments in July 2010.
The disturbing debate on gay rights has been estranged from the human rights struggle mostly by politicians and clergy people who prescribe to the archaic perception of human freedoms. The struggle certainly has it’s differences; for starters, one is about orientation and the other is about and whether it’s a choice. To pigeonhole the struggle to choice or orientation is to miss the significance of the struggle holistically. Furthermore, to assume the struggle will be over when the Bahati Bill dies is flawed–just ask the activists in Uganda who live in danger of losing their lives everyday.
We can no longer ask David Kato. So tonight let’s remember his courage and honor his life by confronting “The Family” and reminding our own government that even in the name of religion, we can’t murder gays. Christ would be ashamed!
How can you help? All Out and Get EQUAL are asking people to join their campaign to and signing an urgent letter pressuring U.K. Home Secretary Theresa May to stop Brenda’s deportation.
Tanya L. Domi is an Adjunct Assistant Professor of International and Public Affairs atColumbia University, who teaches about human rights in Eurasia and is a Harriman Instituteaffiliated faculty member. Prior to teaching at Columbia, Domi worked internationally for more than a decade on issues related to democratic transitional development, including political and media development, human rights, gender issues, sex trafficking, and media freedom.
(Image: Uganda’s Rolling Stone newspaper with David Kato’s photo on the front page, center left.)
We invite you to sign up for our new mailing list, and subscribe to The New Civil Rights Movement via email or RSS.