At Kato's funeral, the Anglican official conducting the service, Thomas Musoke, started bashing gays, saying that "admiring a fellow man" is "ungodly," that even animals can distinguish male from female, and that "gays ... should repent." Kato's gay friends rushed the pulpit and seized the microphone. Then people at the funeral who apparently agreed with the celebrant got into physical skirmishes with the gay people. After that, the residents who would have carried the casket to the cemetery refused to do so, and Kato's friends had to do it.
On Feb. 2, police told local media that a "thief" Kato had bailed out of prison, Nsubuga Enock, confessed to killing Kato because Kato failed to give him a car, house, and money that Kato purportedly dangled to coerce him into sodomy.
Numerous gay activists in Uganda and the U.S. said they do not believe the killing was about withheld gifts and are worried that the homophobic government intends to cover up the true motive for the crime to protect itself from foreign criticism and safeguard foreign aid.
Kato was the advocacy officer for the organization Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) and had been a leading voice in the fight against the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which has been before Uganda's Parliament since October 2009.
The legislation would imprison for life anyone convicted of "the offense of homosexuality," punish "aggravated homosexuality" (repeat offenses, or having gay sex while being HIV-positive) with the death penalty, forbid "promotion of homosexuality" and incarcerate gay-rights defenders, and jail individuals in positions of authority for up to three years if they fail to report within 24 hours the existence of all LGBT people or sympathizers known to them.
Some U.S. and Ugandan activists and reporters have blamed U.S. evangelical visitors to Uganda for inspiring the bill, which, they believe, led to the newspaper article, which, they suspect, led to the murder.
French Constitutional Court Upholds Same-Sex Marriage Ban
France's Constitutional Court upheld the nation's same-sex marriage ban Jan. 28. It said gay and straight couples find themselves in a "different situation" that justifies differing treatment under family law. Parliament, however, can legalize same-sex marriage if it wants to, the court said. Polls suggest that nearly 60 percent of French people support letting same-sex couples marry. The nation has offered civil unions for gay couples for more than a decade, but the unions lack many legal benefits of marriage.
German Court Blocks Trans Sterilization Requirement
Germany's Constitutional Court ruled Jan. 28 that it is unconstitutional to require transgender people to undergo sterilization or gender-reassignment surgery before they can be legally recognized as a member of the other sex. The decision came in the case of a transsexual woman who was denied the right to enter a same-sex civil partnership with her female partner. The court said such requirements are incompatible with rights to sexual self-determination, physical integrity and privacy.
Russia Appeals Euro Court's Pride Ban Ruling
On the last possible day, the Russian government on Jan. 22 appealed a European Court of Human Rights ruling from last October that struck down Moscow's yearly bans of public gay pride events. The government asked the court's Grand Chamber to reconsider the ruling that had been made by a smaller group of the court's judges. Plaintiff Nikolai Alekseev, founder of Moscow Pride, predicted the Grand Chamber would deny the request for a rehearing within two to three months, "which means the verdict will come into force before the sixth Moscow Pride on May 28," he said. In its decision, the court said that former Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov's routine bans of gay pride violated guarantees of the European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms in the areas of freedom of assembly and association, right to an effective remedy and prohibition of discrimination.
Philippines Activists Request International Lobbying
Activists in the Philippines are seeking international pressure to encourage a committee vote in the House of Representatives on a bill to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. House Bill 1483, "An Act Defining Discrimination on the Basis of Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Providing Penalties Therefor," would protect gay and trans people in employment, housing, public accommodations, education, health care, transportation, social services, civil service, the military and other areas. To e-mail the Justice Committee, visit tinyurl.com/philcoj. Address comments to the committee chair, the Hon. Niel Tupas Jr., and the committee secretary, Narcisa Guevarra. For a sample letter, see tinyurl.com/progayfil. For more information on the bill, see tinyurl.com/filbill.
UN Secretary-General Speaks Up for Gays
At a special session of the United Nations' Human Rights Council on Jan. 25 in Geneva, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for an end to human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity. It was believed to be the first time that a secretary-general directly addressed an official U.N. body specifically on issues of sexual orientation and gender identity.
"We must reject persecution of people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity -- who may be arrested, detained or executed for being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender," Ban said. "They may not have popular or political support, but they deserve our support in safeguarding their fundamental human rights."