Thursday, January 27, 2011

On knowing David Kato as a human rights activist; On the editorial on homosexuality and intolerance that was never published

By Steve Parelli, Bronx, NY.  January 27, 2011.  All photos by Steve Parelli

David Kato, August 19, 2007,
on the Red Chili editorial
Today I learned the tragic news that David Kato, Ugandan activist for LGBT human rights, was brutally murdered in his home yesterday.  I had just finished reading Rev. Michael Kimindu's letter of condolence to SMUG (via email), when a friend from Uganda phoned to tell us the sad news.

It was David who had invited Other Sheep to come to Uganda while Jose and I were in Nairobi during the summer of 2007.  He had heard we were in Kenya and he wanted us to please come and meet Integrity in Uganda.   

It was through him that the book The Children Are Free was first introduced to Uganda.  Knowing of his interest that we should visit - and yet not knowing for sure if we would be able to make the trip, Jose and I sent 20 copies of The Children Are Free to David a couple weeks prior to our actual arrival in Uganda.  While we were in Uganda, and because of the anti-religious sentiment publicly happening just then, David invited us, on the spot, to give a crash course to the staff of SMUG on the Bible and homosexuality.  Which we did.  We never saw such eager learners!

David Kator discussing the wording and ideas of
the Red Chili editorial, August 19, 2007
 David asked me to write a news release in response to the Pentecostals who were making a public demonstration against SMUG and homosexuals.  I used a recent writing I had written while in Nairobi a couple weeks earlier and together David and I customized it as a possible news release from Integrity Uganda (it was never published).

What follows is an excerpt from the unpublished editorial by David Kato and me, written August 19, 2007, at the Red Chili Hideaway cottages, in Kampala, Uganda.

"It must be said again and again in any society where religious teachings on homosexuality dominate, that the view of the religious majority is not to be legislated onto the views and practices of the sexual minority. As long as a gay man or woman does not infringe upon the rights of other individuals, the homosexual (who is often Christian) has the same right as his heterosexual counterpart, to interpret the Bible according to his or her understanding and to answer only before God (and not to the government or to the church)."  

David Kato, left, with Steve Parelli, right, working
on the Red Chile editorial on homosexuality and
intolerance/tolerance, August 19, 2007.
There are two things I've never forgotten about David around this editorial which I had written in Nairobi and which we customized together in Kampala for Uganda -- (1) David was very good at making/using certain key phrases and words that articulated well the ideas of freedom and human rights for all people -- I was very impressed by this; and secondly (2) He was amazed at the idea of the separation of church and government and the idea of liberty of conscience (that no institution, secular or religious, had the right to dictate beliefs in matters pertaining to God and faith), and he asked me very directly and with a sense of urgency how he could learn more on this topic.

Today, Jose and I cried.  

We cannot imagine what David must have suffered.  We cannot imagine the hate that would shed blood.  We pray, and we believe, that David's death will not have been in vain.  He lived knowing he might die - so that others, some day, might live in freedom without the slightest fear of death or rejection because of their sexual orientation.

David Kato, working on the Red Chili
editorial, August 19, 2007.
There was Another who died that we might live.  David gave his life for us.  No greater love is there than this that a man should lay down his live for his friends.  David laid down his life for us all . . . his friends.

Thank you, God, thank you, Jesus, for the privilege of knowing David.


Carol said...

I am saddened at the loss of this fine man. I just heard of him, but it is obvious that he gave everything so that this world would be more just for everyone.

I am sorry for the world's loss in such a brutal manner. May God help us all...and bless us as well.


甩拖二次郎 said...

I feel deeply sorry to hear this and can't understand how people treat others' lives like this.

Love can stop hatred and love can heal our sorrow. With God's love, we can be strong!!!