David Kato: A New Ugandan Martyr

In June each year, the Church remembers a group of Ugandan martyrs, in the feast of Charles Lwangwa and companions. This week, we as queer Christians have new Ugandan martyr to remember, in David Kanto, an openly gay church worker who was brutally murdered in a clearly homophobic attack. While we mourn his death, we should at the same time pause to reflect on both sets of deaths, and on the role of the Christian churches in fomenting African homophobia, in colonial times and in the modern world.

Charles Lwangwa and companions were a group of young pages to the king of Buganda who converted to Christianity. Encouraged by the local missionaries, they resisted the sexual advances of their royal master. For this act of treason (in the eyes of the king and the Buganda court), they were executed. For this courageous martyrdom (as the missionaries saw it), they were later canonized as saints.

This week, David Kanto was murdered.


David Kato, Martyr

David was brutally beaten to death in his home today, 26 January 2011, around 2pm.  Across the entire country, straight, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex Ugandans mourn the loss of David, a dear friend, colleague, teacher, family member, and human rights defender.

extract from public statement by Sexual Minorities Uganda

David has been receiving death threats since his face was put on the front page of Rolling Stone Magazine, which called for his death and the death of all homosexuals.  David’s death comes directly after the Supreme Court of Uganda ruled that people must stop inciting violence against homosexuals and must respect the right to privacy and human dignity.


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Gay Christians Speak Out in East Africa – Ekklesia

For those of us living in the affluent, established democracies of the North, we too easily think only in terms of those in similar circumstances.  When our thoughts do turn to Africa, it is likely that we think first of the high-profile disaster stories: famine in East Africa, or the political melt-down in Zimbabwe. Few of us ever think of the African success stories. Who had ever heard of Botswana, until Alexander McCall Smith’s stories of Mme Precious Ramoletswe and the No 1 Ladies Detective agency hit the best-seller lists ?  You would probably be surprised to learn that Botswana has had, over a period now approaching half a century, one of the fastest rates of growth in GDP in the world.  (When  I was looking at the figures professionally, back in the early ’90’s, the average rate of growth exceeded even that of China. )  How often do you get to read of the political stability in Tanzania, or of the remarkable transition to democracy, some years ago, of Benin? Sadly, it is only the bad news from Africa that hits the headlines, so unless we actively seek out a more complete picture, we develop some very distorted views.


No 1 Ladies Detective, Mme Precious Ramoletswe

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