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David Kato funeral: Uganda priest berates gays


Ugandan police have escorted a priest away from the funeral of a gay rights activist after he told homosexuals to repent, sparking scuffles.

Anglican priest Thomas Musoke told mourners that homosexuality was "evil".

Hundreds of people had gathered for David Kato's burial in his home village near the capital, Kampala.

His colleagues say he was beaten to death at his home on Wednesday, although police deny he was killed because of his sexuality.

Last year, Mr Kato sued a local paper which outed him as homosexual.

Uganda's Rolling Stone newspaper published the photographs of several people it said were gay, including Mr Kato, with the headline "Hang them".

Homosexual acts are illegal in Uganda, and can be punished by 14-year prison sentences. An MP recently tried to increase the penalties to include the death sentence in some cases.

Mr Kato's Sexual Minorities Uganda (Smug) group said he had been receiving death threats since his name, photograph and address were published by the newspaper last year.

The BBC's Joshua Mmali at the funeral says it is unclear whether the death is linked to the campaign by Rolling Stone, whose editor has denied calling for the public to attack homosexuals.

'Aluta continua'

image captionDavid Kato was buried in his family ancestral village of Nakawala

Our reporter says hundreds of people - friends, family, colleagues and diplomats - crowded outside Mr Kato's family home in the village of Nakawala in Mukono district, 40km (about 25 miles) from Kampala.

Many members of the lesbian and gay community wore T-shirts with Mr Kato's portrait on the front and the words "Aluta continua [the struggle continues]" printed on the back.

They were shocked when the priest started condemning homosexuals.

"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.

Police have made one arrest in connection to Mr Kato's murder in his home near Mukono town.

The main suspect - who the police say was living in Mr Kato's house - remains on the run.

"His homosexuality has not come up as an issue in the preliminary investigation," police spokeswoman Judith Nabakooba told Reuters news agency.

"At the moment, we think theft is the most likely motive," she said.

There has been a recent spate of "iron-bar killings" in Mukono in which people have been assaulted with pieces of metal.

Witnesses have told the BBC that a man entered Mr Kato's house and beat him to death before leaving.

Smug's executive director Frank Mugisha told the BBC Mr Kato had recently been concerned about the threats he had received.

"He was killed by someone who came in his house with a hammer, meaning anyone else could be the next target."

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has urged authorities to investigate and prosecute the killers.

The UN refugee agency head Antonio Guterres has said people facing persecution for their sexual orientation in Uganda should be given refugee status in other countries.

More on this story

  • Obituary: Uganda gay activist David Kato