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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Ugandan gay rights activist bludgeoned to death

Kampala, Uganda (CNN) -- A Ugandan gay rights activist whose name was published on a list of the nation's "top homosexuals" was bludgeoned to death in his home near the capital, his lawyer said Thursday.
A neighbor found David Kato dead and notified authorities, according to his lawyer.
Kato's money and some clothes were missing after the attack, said John Onyango, his attorney.

It was unclear whether Kato's killing was linked to his gay rights activism or a front-page story in a Ugandan tabloid that reignited anti-gay sentiments late last year.
The story included a list of "top 100 homosexuals" with their photos, addresses and a banner with the words "Hang Them." Kato's name and picture were on the list.
Arrest warrants have been issued for two suspects: a taxi driver found near the victim's house and an ex-convict who was staying with Kato prior to the killing, Onyango said.
Kato told CNN last year that that he feared for his life after the list was released. His lawyer said he had informed authorities in Mukono town, where he lived, of his fears.
"The villagers want to set my house ablaze," he told CNN at the time. "They want to burn my house ... (they say) 'Can you go away before my house is burned?'"
Authorities in the Mukono criminal investigations department declined to comment pending further investigation.
Activists decried the attack, and urged authorities in the east African nation to investigate the killing. They called on the government to protect them from violence, and act on threats and hostility toward them.
"David Kato's death is a tragic loss to the human rights community. David had faced the increased threats to Ugandan LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people bravely and will be sorely missed," said Maria Burnett, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch.
Earlier this year, Kato and two activists won a case against the magazine that published the list. The court ruled that media in Uganda are barred from releasing details of known or potential homosexuals in the country.
The editor of the Rolling Stone, the tabloid that published the list, denounced the attacks and said he sympathized with the victim's family.
"When we called for hanging of gay people, we meant ... after they have gone through the legal process," said Giles Muhame. "I did not call for them to be killed in cold blood like he was."
The Rolling Stone tabloid is not affiliated with the iconic U.S. music magazine by the same name.
Homosexuality is illegal in most countries in Africa, where sodomy laws were introduced during colonialism.
In Uganda, homosexual acts are punishable by 14 years to life in prison, according to rights activists.


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