In October 2010, a banner headline ran on the front page of the Ugandan newspaper Rolling Stone: “100 Pictures of Uganda’s Top Homos Leak.” Subheadings warned of these people’s dark designs: “We Shall Recruit 1,000,000 Kids by 2012,” and “Parents Now Face Heartbreaks as Homos Raid Schools.” One of the two men pictured on the front page was David Kato, an outspoken leader of Uganda’s small human-rights movement. Inside the newspaper, his name and home address, along with those of other LGBT Ugandans, were printed. The article called for the “homos” to be hanged.
Three months later, after numerous threats, Kato was bludgeoned to death in his Kampala home. Police said the motive was robbery, but human-rights advocates did not believe the official story. At Kato’s funeral, an Anglican priest condemned homosexuality. Kato’s death was international news, making him the highest-profile victim of the anti-gay hysteria that has enveloped much of sub-Saharan Africa over the past decade. Although U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has joined other Western diplomats in being openly critical of African political leaders who fail to defend the rights of their LGBT populations, the crisis afflicting sexual minorities on the continent has its origins in the United States. Pejorative attitudes toward LGBT people in Africa have long been widespread. But the recent upsurge in politicized homophobia has been inspired by right-wing American evangelicals who have exported U.S.–style culture-war politics.