News / Africa

Uganda Convicts Gay Activist’s Killer as Parliament Debates Anti-Homosexuality Bill

A member of the Ugandan gay community carries a picture of murdered gay activist David Kato during his funeral near Mataba, January 28, 2011. Although the police claims it was most likely a petty crime, targeting Kato's money, many members of the gay and
A member of the Ugandan gay community carries a picture of murdered gay activist David Kato during his funeral near Mataba, January 28, 2011. Although the police claims it was most likely a petty crime, targeting Kato's money, many members of the gay and

A Ugandan man has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for the murder of gay rights activist David Kato. The high profile case concludes as the Ugandan parliament debates a controversial bill that would make some homosexual acts punishable by the death penalty.

The murder of gay rights activist David Kato at his home in Kampala last January focused international media attention on the plight of gays and lesbians in Uganda. Kato’s killer was sentenced Thursday to 30 years in prison for the crime, though the future for the country’s homosexual community remains difficult.

Enoch Nsubuga, killer of gay rights activist David Kato, standing in front of journalists at the Ugandan media center in Kampala, February 3, 2011 (file).
Enoch Nsubuga, killer of gay rights activist David Kato, standing in front of journalists at the Ugandan media center in Kampala, February 3, 2011 (file).

Sidney Nsubuga Enoch admitted to killing Kato with a hammer. But he was only convicted of second-degree murder, having claimed that he acted in self-defense. Enoch told the court Kato was making sexual advances, and that he had no choice but to kill him.

The conviction came shortly after the Ugandan parliament voted to re-open debate on a controversial bill that would make some homosexual acts punishable by death. The bill, which was first presented to parliament in 2009, would also make it a criminal offense to “promote” homosexuality, or to fail to turn homosexuals in to the police.

The bill has drawn intense criticism from Western governments and international human rights groups. Boris Dittrich, of the New York-based rights advocacy group Human Rights Watch, explains his organization’s position.

“The anti-homosexuality bill is a draconian law, and it needs to be defeated. It violates all kind of human rights,” he said.

Homosexuality is already illegal in Uganda, as is the case in most African countries, and can be punished by up to 14 years in prison. Public hostility to the gay and lesbian community is widespread, with many Ugandans believing that homosexuality is an anti-Christian import from the West.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni told reporters he refused to promote homosexual rights because it was not part of his country’s cultural traditions.

“There were a few homosexuals before colonialism which we were aware of. They were not killed, nor were they persecuted, but they were not promoted,” he said.

Kato’s murder came shortly after a local newspaper published the names and photos of several members the homosexual community, under the headline, “Hang Them.” Kato’s face was among them.

Some people blame the rise of Evangelical Christianity in Uganda for this violent homophobia.

At Kato’s funeral last January, a local priest used the occasion to rail against homosexuals, calling on them to repent or be “punished by God.”

But others blame the new bill being debated by parliament. Activist Joanitah Abang, of the lesbian rights organization Freedom and Roam, says that before the bill, homosexuals were largely left alone. But now, she says, those in the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender (LGBT) community are being accused of any number of crimes.

“Before the bill, not many Ugandans knew that there were LGBT people in Uganda. Gay people lived their lives, although there were a few instances of harassment, abuse, but it wasn’t so much like today," Abang said. "But when the bill was tabled in Parliament, it brought in a lot of issues - issues of recruiting  children, issues of rape, issues of homosexuals being pedophile. It caused a lot of discussion in people’s homes, communities and workplaces.”

Even if the bill does not pass, few people expect homosexuality to be legalized in Uganda in the near future. In the mean time, many Ugandan gays and lesbians are hoping that the public attention will die down, and they will be left to slip quietly back under the radar.

You May Like

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs