Scuffle mars burial of Uganda gay rights activist
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Last Updated: Saturday, January 29, 2011, 12:39
  
Namataba: A scuffle erupted on Friday at the funeral of a murdered Ugandan gay rights activist after the presiding priest charged that homosexuality is "evil and will be punished by God”.

"You must repent. Even the animals know the difference between a male and a female," Anglican priest Thomas Musoke told mourners at the funeral of David Kato who was killed on Wednesday at his home outside the capital Kampala.

"How can human beings claim they don't know the difference between a man and a woman and that the two have different roles?" said Musoke, to shouts of support from some at the gathering.

Musoke's role was already unwelcome to some mourners and his lengthy sermon that crescendoed with gay bashing riled the leader of the Sexual Minorities Group in Uganda, Julian Pepe, who pulled the microphone from the priest, sparking a scuffle.

Police moved in to quell the melee and whisked away the priest. An excommunicated priest then wound up the ceremony attended by around 200 people, including US deputy head of mission Virginia Blaser.

Several members of Uganda's gay community who attended Kato's funeral wore T-shirts reading "Alluta Continua" -- The Struggle Continues.

Homosexuality is banned in Uganda, which is mulling a harsh new anti-gay bill, which would usher in the death sentence for acts of "aggravated homosexuality".

The category includes any act involving a minor or a person who knows he is HIV positive. It also encompasses "repeat offenders".

Kato was last year pictured and named by the anti-gay tabloid Rolling Stone -- no relation to the US magazine of the same name. It also ran a story calling on readers to "hang" gay rights advocates.

But police chief Kale Kayihura said Kato's killing had nothing to do with his activism.

"Preliminary investigations indicate the death of Kato is a case of a robbery gone bad," Kayihura said.

"It has nothing to do with what he was advocating for.”

"We have so far arrested one person and another is on the run, but we will get him," he added.

Kato's murder triggered a wave of condemnation from rights groups who criticised Uganda for ignoring the plight of gay people in the country and urged authorities to investigate the murder.

The head of the worldwide Anglican church, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, on Friday condemned the murder and urged an end to "bigotry" against homosexuals.

"Whatever the precise circumstances of his death, which have yet to be determined, we know that David Kato Kisule lived under the threat of violence and death," Williams said in a statement.

US President Barack Obama, who last year described Uganda's controversial anti-gay bill as "odious", said on Thursday he was "deeply saddened" by Kato's murder.

"He was a powerful advocate for fairness and freedom. The United States mourns his murder," Obama said.

Anglicanism is one of the main faiths in the former British colony but its conservative leaders are opposed to homosexuality.

At a meeting in Entebbe, Uganda, of African bishops last August attended by Williams, conference host and Ugandan Archbishop Uganda Henry Luke Orombi said, "Homosexuality is incompatible with the word of God."

In Britain, meanwhile, a Ugandan woman who says she is a lesbian said on Friday she feared she would be killed if she was deported to her home country.

Brenda Namigadde said the death of Kato showed that homosexuals "are not safe at all in Uganda”.

Namigadde told the BBC she was "shaking" at the thought of being forced to go back to Uganda, having fled to Britain in 2002 after being beaten and victimised because of her sexuality.

"I'm going to be killed," she said.

She was appealing against a judge's ruling that she was not homosexual. Britain's Home Office, or Interior Ministry, has so far rejected her attempts to remain in the country.

Bureau Report


First Published: Saturday, January 29, 2011, 12:39


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