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On the Murder of Leading Ugandan Gay Rights Leader David Kato

GLN permalink 1-28-2011

The brutal murder of leading Ugandan gay rights activist David Kato shows that dehumanizing whole groups of people - in this instance by homophobia - has real consequences. The blood of Mr. Kato is on the hands of all those far-right U.S. organizations that in desperately poor parts of the world promote homophobia, and thus help corrupt rulers divert attention from real problems by scapegoating LGBTs.

Here in Illinois, Peter LaBarbera's "Americans for Truth About Homosexuality" (AFTAH) has taken to task any who opposed Uganda's proposed "kill the gays" bill. At an AFTAH conference this past summer, a featured speaker was a leading U.S. advocate for the Uganda bill.

But for every far-right U.S. supporter for homophobic violence, fortunately there are many more grassroots activists who oppose it.

It was pressure from grassroots activists around the world that has prompted political leaders from many countries to help stall the "kill the gays" bill so far. But the hysterical homophobia prompted by the bill's existence led an opportunistic Ugandan newspaper to run pictures of Kato and two other LGBT rights activists with the headline, "Hang Them!"

We've frequently seen a lesser version of this pattern of incitement followed by violence here in the United States each time an anti-LGBT referendum is fought over whether or not we are to be treated as equal human beings. From the days of Anita Bryant onwards, each such campaign has typically been accompanied by shocking spikes in anti-LGBT violence. Given half a chance, some far right forces would introduce a "kill the gays" bill here in the U.S., telling them that Leviticus told them to do it.

Fortunately there are many people of good will, LGBT and non-LGBT alike, in countries around the world to counter them. The best way we can honor Kato's memory and activism is to redouble our efforts against homophobia and the violence it spawns.

One immediate step you can take is to join the more than 25,000 others who have signed a letter demanding that the British Home Secretary cease deportation proceedings against Brenda Namigadde, a Ugandan Lesbian asylum seeker who faces imminent removal from Great Britain back to Uganda. The lead sponsor of Uganda's "kill the gays" bill has already threatened her.

Go to http://www.allout.org/brenda to sign the letter.


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