David Kato, a prominent Ugandan Gay Rights activist, was brutally murdered this week. While police officials chalked the motive up to robbery, most observers suspect his death was the result of the ratcheting up of anti-gay rhetoric and violence in Uganda in the last few years, much of it spurred on by American evangelicals.
Kato’s death came as the Primates of the Anglican Communion are meeting. The meeting is smaller than usual with a number of national church leaders staying away, some because of the Episcopal Church’s openness to gay and lesbians. In the course of the meeting, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefforts Schori released this statement:
At this morning’s Eucharist at the Primates Meeting, I offered prayers for the repose of the soul of David Kato. His murder deprives his people of a significant and effective voice, and we pray that the world may learn from his gentle and quiet witness, and begin to receive a heart of flesh in place of a heart of stone. May he rest in peace, and may his work continue to bring justice and dignity for all God’s children.
The Archbishop of Canterbury released a statement of his own this morning, two days after Kato’s death. It reads:
“The brutal murder of David Kato Kisule, a gay human rights activist, is profoundly shocking. Our prayers and deep sympathy go out for his family and friends – and for all who live in fear for their lives. 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. No one should have to live in such fear because of the bigotry of others. Such violence has been consistently condemned by the Anglican Communion worldwide. This event also makes it all the more urgent for the British Government to secure the safety of LGBT asylum seekers in the UK. This is a moment to take very serious stock and to address those attitudes of mind which endanger the lives of men and women belonging to sexual minorities.”
The ABC says violence against gays “has been consistently condemned by the Anglican Communion worldwide.”
Later today, we learned that violence broke out at Kato’s funeral. The BBC reports that the priest presiding said from the pulpit:
“You must repent. Even the animals know the difference between a male and a female,” he said, before warning that they would face the fate of residents in Sodom and Gomorrah, the biblical cities destroyed by God.
Gay rights activists then stormed the pulpit and prevented the priest from continuing.
An excommunicated priest who has in the past called for people to respect the rights of homosexuals then presided over the rest of the service.
Apparently, some Anglicans worldwide haven’t received the message sent “consistently by the Anglican Communion.”