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 Op-ed: Demonizing David Kato to Further Antigay Sentiment

 Op-ed: Demonizing David Kato to Further Antigay Sentiment


Justice Joseph Mulangira of Uganda's Mukono High Court has sentenced Sidney Nsubuga Enoch, 22, the man they say confessed to the murder of gay rights activist David Kato, to 30 years in prison.

Kato was a local and international gay rights activist. His face appeared as one of the hundred 'outed' gay men by Uganda's Rolling Stone tabloid along with the headline "100 Pictures of Uganda's top Homos." Against all odds, Kato won his case in the Uganda courts, against the paper's publishers, where his face appeared next to a headline, "Hang Them!" Months later, after declaring that he feared for his life, Kato was brutally murdered in his home.

The Ugandan authorities arrested and convicted Nsubuga, but his story makes no sense.

I see reason to believe the killer murdered Kato for being gay. But rather than pursue a real motive, the prosecutor chose to believe the story of a confessed killer who probably thought he would receive leniency -- and possibly become a hero -- if he inserted into his story that Kato had made a demand for homosexual sex.

The story advanced by the prosecutor at sentencing has done little more than perpetuate the myth that gays are trying to recruit straight people into homosexuality. It feeds into the lie that Ugandans -- and in particular their children -- are in grave danger unless homosexuality is criminalized.

Whether one considers the sentence of 30 years light or not, the bottom line is that a great hero, who may well have been murdered for his cause, has not only yet to see justice, but has also had his memory tarnished.

While the police issued a statement saying that Kato's killing was in no way related to his campaign for gay rights, many of us believe this entire story to be a cover up of the actual facts and events that led to his brutal murder.

What is of greatest concern to me is that the Ugandan government has failed to render a version of the events that makes any sense. On the one hand, given the context of antigay fervor in Uganda, the story implies that Kato's homosexuality had something to do with his death, yet it refuses to consider that maybe it had nothing to do with sex and everything to do with a vendetta against Kato for his activism.

This version is nothing more than an attempt to slander a dead hero and detract from the truth about the murder.

The language used and description inserts a so-called "demand for sex" as a concomitant leading to the murderer's actions. Clearly the murderer could have left the scene, and he did not.

My dear friend and brother David Kato will not be forgotten. David and I were in regular communication for at least a year, as a source, a fellow activist and a friend. If anyone knew David, he was not a man who would have demanded sex from anyone.

Nothing will stop us from remembering the real David Kato, the fervent activist who fought with courage while knowing his life was at great risk. David Kato died for his cause.

MELANIE NATHAN is a lawyer and human rights activist who is author of the GAY U.S.A. the Blog, which is run in conjunction with GAY U.S.A. the Movie.

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