More hatred. It is everywhere. This Shabbat I am mourning the death of David Kato. He was a Ugandan human rights activist who worked to ensure the right of gay and lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in his country. Uganda has been a difficult place for sexual minorities. In particular Christian fundamentalist groups from the United States have been poisoning the minds of people in Uganda. He actively worked to stop the Ugandan bill that would have given gay people the death penalty for just living their lives. He sued a local magazine that outed him. In January the court found that all Ugandans had a right to privacy.
His murder in his home in Bukusu, Mukono District is especially frightening and especially tragic. This was a man who was a true light to the world. He was only 46 years old. He was the advocacy officer for Sexual Minorities Union of Uganda.
The murder was condemned by both U.S. State Department and the E.U. The EU statement said: “The EU Heads of Mission call on the Ugandan authorities to investigate David Kato’s murder vigorously and to ensure that the perpetrators of this terrible act are brought to justice.” Kato, whose picture was published by a local tabloid next to the words “Hang them” last year, was reportedly clobbered with a hammer.”
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said this in the State Department’s press release:
“This crime is a reminder of the heroic generosity of the people who advocate for and defend human rights on behalf of the rest of us — and the sacrifices they make. And as we reflect on his life, it is also an occasion to reaffirm that human rights apply to everyone, no exceptions, and that the human rights of LGBT individuals cannot be separated from the human rights of all persons.”
This is what happens when human rights and those who advocate for those rights are not protected. The cycle of violence is high. And the ripples of this will be felt for years.
David Kato was a person of great courage. Our condolences extend to his family. May his memory and his work live for a blessing.