[JURIST] The Ugandan High Court [official website] on Thursday sentenced a man to 30 years in prison for beating to death prominent gay rights activist David Kato. Enock Nsubuga confessed to the January 2011 killing, admitting to beating Kato [Reuters report] with a hammer at his home before he died on the way to the hospital. Nsubuga claimed that he attacked Kato in response to sexual advances he made. The case sparked worldwide criticism and drew attention to gay rights in Uganda. Homosexuality remains a controversial issue in much of Africa, with 37 countries in the continent, including Uganda, having laws making homosexuality illegal. Uganda has been harshly criticized throughout the international community since the introduction [BBC report] in October 2009 of its Anti-Homosexuality Bill [text, PDF], which stalled in the Parliament. The legislation would have made “aggravated homosexuality” punishable by death. In Uganda, it is a common belief that homosexuality is both un-Christian and un-African.
In January, the Ugandan High Court issued a permanent injunction [JURIST report] and awarded damages to plaintiffs who were alleged to be homosexuals by the Ugandan tabloid newspaper, The Rolling Stone. The complaint was filed by Uganda’s Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law [advocacy website] on behalf of three members who, along with 97 other individuals, were alleged to be homosexuals in an article published by the tabloid under the headline “Hang Them” in October 2010. In January 2010, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said the Anti-Homosexuality Bill was discriminatory [JURIST report] and could harm Uganda’s reputation internationally. Additionally, in February, US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton denounced the proposed legislation [JURIST report], which would implement harsh punishments for homosexual behavior, including the death penalty in some circumstances.