KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — A prominent Ugandan gay rights activist whose picture was published by an anti-gay newspaper next to the words "Hang Them" was bludgeoned to death. Police said Thursday his sexual orientation had nothing to do with the killing and that one "robber" had been arrested.
Activists were outraged over the death of David Kato, an advocacy officer for the gay rights group Sexual Minorities Uganda. His slaying comes after a year of stepped up threats against gays in Uganda, where a controversial bill has proposed the death penalty for some homosexual acts.
Kato, who had received multiple threats, was found with serious wounds to his head caused by an attack with a hammer at his home late Wednesday in Uganda's capital, Kampala. Kato later died on the way to the hospital.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends, and colleagues," U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said. "We urge Ugandan authorities to quickly and thoroughly investigate and prosecute those responsible for this heinous act. David Kato tirelessly devoted himself to improving the lives of others.
Human Rights Watch called for an urgent investigation, saying that Kato's work as a prominent gay rights campaigner had previously seen him face threats to his personal safety.
"David Kato's death is a tragic loss to the human rights community," said Maria Burnett, senior Africa researcher at HRW. "David had faced the increased threats ... bravely and will be sorely missed."
A Ugandan tabloid newspaper called Rolling Stone listed a number of men they said were homosexuals last year, including Kato. Kato's picture was published on the front page, along with his name and a headline that said "Hang Them."