David Kato, the slain Uganda gay rights activist found murdered on January 26, will be remembered tomorrow here in New York City.
The memorial, sponsored by 35 organizations including ACT UP and the Human Rights Campaign, will begin with a candle light vigil at 4:00 PM at the United Nation’s Dag Hammarskjold Plaza. From there, a silent vigil will proceed to Uganda House, where speeches will be made.
As the New York Times put it, Kato was the “most outspoken gay rights advocate in Uganda, a country where homophobia is so severe that Parliament is considering a bill to execute gay people.” Last year, a Ugandan magazine called Rolling Stone (no relation to the U.S. publication) ran a picture of Kato on its cover with the headline “Hang Them.” It published the names and addresses of known homosexuals in the country. Kato had won a lawsuit against the paper getting them to stop printing the names, but just a few months later, he was beaten to death with a hammer.
Kato was a fierce critic of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009, which is still pending before the Uganda Parliament. If passed, it would allow for the execution of homosexuals by the state. Critics of the bill cite its American influence, for it was drafted after a high profile visit to Uganda by American evangelical missionaries who whipped up homophobia. (Several of the people who visited with the U.S. contingent drafted the bill shortly thereafter and boasted of their influence with American evangelicals.)
Daj Hammersklod Plaza is at Second Avenue and 47th Street. Uganda House is located at 336 East 45th Street, between 1st and 2nd Avenues.