Horrible news to report from Uganda. Only months after his name and face were printed in a notorious anti-gay tabloid newspaper with the headline "Hang Them", one of the nation's leading gay rights activists was brutally killed in his own home. David Kato was beaten in the head Wednesday afternoon with a hammer, police report.
The 46-year-old Kato was the spokesman for Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), the sole LGBT rights organization in the small East African nation. In October, Kato was listed among the nation's "100 Top Homos" by the infamous local tabloid Rolling Stone. A number of those listed were physically attacked and Kato "received death threats", reports SKY News.
Kato and two others sued the newspaper and won a permanent junction earlier this month.
Witnesses told police that a man entered Kato’s home in Mukono at around 1 p.m. on January 26, 2011, hit him twice in the head and departed in a vehicle. Kato died on his way to Kawolo hospital. Police told Kato’s lawyer that they had the registration number of the vehicle and were looking for it.
Authorities refuse to link Kato's murder to the anti-gay tabloid outing, reports The New York Times. "Police officials said they did not believe this was a hate crime. 'It looks like theft, as some things were stolen,' [police spokeswoman] Judith Nabakooba said. Gay activists disagreed and said Mr. Kato was singled out for his outspoken defense of gay rights."
Uganda has attracted international condemnation for its state-sponsored anti-gay terror campaign. Uganda's penal code bans sodomy and other sexual acts "against the order of nature." But in 2009, MP David Bahati proposed the extreme Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which mandated the death penalty or life imprisonment for the new crime of "aggravated homosexuality." The bill has been tabled until the spring.