Another queer rights hero has been murdered today, and one particular publication should be held at least in part accountable for his death. David Kato, a Ugandan activist fighting for LGBTQ rights in Uganda with the group SMUG – Sexual Minorities Uganda (whose website has recently been shut down) was bludgeoned to death in his own home shortly after a friend had contacted him and asked him to come into town to sort out personal security. He had told the friend that he didn’t have enough money to go into town. A few hours later he was dead – another victim in the disgusting global reality of violent homophobia.
David Kato was in need of protection because a Ugandan newspaper, Rolling Stone, regularly publishes pictures of gay Ugandans, and especially queer Ugandan activists. A recent photo showed activists with the words “Hang them all.” This kind of hate speech is illegal in Canada and many other parts of the world, but in Uganda it is tragically and indefensibly allowed. Disgusting media outlets like Rolling Stone—which should be targeted by hackers at every turn—adds to a chorus of American and Ugandan religious extremist groups who stir bigotry and hatred inside Uganda.
Kato and his group are featured in the above short film, which was produced by the Swedish group RFSL, one of the world’s oldest LGBT organizations with thousands of members. The film shows the group’s daily struggles to avoid arrest, beatings, rape and murder, and also shows the important and intensely brave work they do in one of the most hostile environments for queers to be in anywhere in the world. The film shows how SMUG is invited to participate in a “debate” at a University in Uganda, only to find themselves ensnared in a vicious trap where the audience and University deans yell at them and argue that they are devil’s children who should be “cured.” The film is fairly low-grade technically, but the fact that it was shot and made it out of the country is itself remarkable.
Watch it and if it moves you, consider supporting SMUG through the work of RFSL.