Thursday, January 27, 2011

David Kato, a Ugandan gay rights campaigner who sued a local newspaper which outed him as homosexual, has been beaten to death, activists have said

Police have confirmed the death and say they have arrested one suspect. Uganda's Rolling Stone newspaper published the photographs of several people it said were gay, including Kato, with the headline "Hang them". The police say that though they have arrested one suspect, the main suspect - who they say lived with Kato - remains on the run. Homosexual acts are illegal in Uganda, with punishments of 14 years in prison. An MP recently tried to increase the penalties to include the death sentence in some cases. There has been a recent spate of "iron-bar killings" in Mukono, where Kato lived, in which people have been assaulted with pieces of metal. Witnesses have said that a man entered Kato's home near Kampala and beat him to death before leaving. His Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) Group said Kato had been receiving death threats since his name, photograph and address were published by Rolling Stone in 2010. Following a complaint by Kato and three others, a judge in November 2010 ordered Rolling Stone to stop publishing the photographs of people it said were homosexual, saying it contravened their right to privacy. Several activists said they had been attacked after their photographs were published. Rolling Stone editor Giles Muhame said he condemned the murder and that the paper had not wanted gays to be attacked. "There has been a lot of crime, it may not be because he is gay," he said. "We want the government to hang people who promote homosexuality, not for the public to attack them." Iron-bar killings were common in Uganda when former leader Idi Amin was in power in the 1970s.

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