On Wednesday the Ugandan LGBT activist David Kato, 42, was viciously murdered with a hammer in his own home.
It was an attack he feared was coming. Friends said he was a brave but frightened man. On Wednesday the day he dreaded finally arrived.
Last year Kato's photo had been printed on the cover of a Ugandan newspaper that called for gays to be executed under a headline that read: "Hang them."
That call worked. After it ran Kato began receiving death threats. In a farcical turn the editor of the Rolling Stone, the paper that had put Kato's face on its front page, told the press on Thursday that he condemned Kato’s murder and he insisted that his publication had not called for gays to be harmed - just hanged.
“We want the government to hang people who promote homosexuality, not the public to attack them,” Muhame said.
You might think that Kato's murder would have satisfied the bigots baying for his blood. But on Friday at his funeral a local pastor stormed the pulpit, wrestled the microphone from the mourners and preached against homosexuality. His sharp words led to a mob of villagers refusing to let Kato's body be buried.
"It is ungodly," the pastor shouted."People are turning away from the scriptures. They should turn back, they should abandon what they are doing. You cannot start admiring a fellow man."
Why should we care about this nightmare happening so far away? Because Uganda was intentionally positioned as an outpost in the US culture wars.
With prodding from prominent American evangelicals, last year an "Anti-Homosexuality Bill," also known as the "Kill the Gays" bill was introduced in Uganda with provisions that include "up to three years in prison for failing to report a homosexual" (heterosexuals are menaced by it too); seven years for "promotion of homosexuality"; life imprisonment for a single homosexual act; and for so-called "aggravated homosexuality" (anyone who had consensual sex on several occasions) death.
The bill was introduced in 2009 by a member of parliament named David Bahati, a rising star in the shadowy but influential American evangelical movement based in Washington D.C. known as The Family. Bahati has already admitted he was guided in its drafting the bill by the organization. The "kill the gays bill," he acknowledged, was introduced after a public visit from three American evangelicals who toured Uganda in March of 2009.
So none of this happened by accident.
These self-described American "experts" encouraged Ugandans to persecute LGBT people by assuring them that gay men often recruited and sodomized teenage boys; that the gay movement is an evil institution whose intended goal is to "defeat the marriage-based society and replace it with a culture of sexual promiscuity." They even claimed they could "cure" homosexuality and turn gay people straight through the power of Christian prayer.
The three Americans who traveled to Uganda to ring the homophobic alarms bells are Scott Lively, a missionary who's books against homosexuality include the incendiary "7 Steps to Recruit-Proof Your Child"; Caleb Lee Brundidge, a self-described former gay man who leads "healing" seminars; and Don Schmierer, a board member of Exodus International, the discredited body who claim to "cure" homosexuals.
So it is now clear that the pulpits and check books of American fundamentalist churches have helped to fuel these dreadful developments. But those who helped light the fuse refuse to acknowledge the consequences of their own actions. Lively, Brundidge and Schmierer are claiming they are the real victims of the recent developments.
But tell that to the deeply frightened friends of David Kato, who's face was beaten unrecognizable, and who was prevented from having a dignified burial by the villagers incited by the murderous anti-gay rhetoric that Uganda indulges in without censure.
After this week every gay person in Uganda has reason to fear for their lives. This climate of anti-gay hysteria is the result of a sustained, homophobic and misleading campaign waged by American evangelicals.
Thanks to their unchecked intolerance, David Kato lived a short, terrifying life. And when the mob cleared and his friends recovered from the sinister scenes they were subjected to, they had to go and bury his body themselves.
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