The police have a number of theories. Episcopal Cafe is following this. Some people in the gay-rights community believe there is a connection, either directly or indirectly, between his death and anti-gay rhetoric in both the church and society. Some people in the anti-gay world deny such a link. Everyone agrees he was murdered and everyone who has made formal statements on his death deplores the murder and any possibility that his murder was motivated by hate or fear of homosexuals.
Yet there are those who believe IF there is a link between Kato's murder and his being gay, Kato shares with the murderer some of the blame for his own death and if there is not he none the less can be faulted for being out front as a gay activist. This is the worse sort of victimization.
And there are those who believe that even if David Kato was murdered for reasons having nothing to do with his being a gay activist and singled out by a Uganda newspaper, Rolling Stone, as "Homos' faces exposed," he none the less was working for justice and that his death is a signal event in the movement for justice and inclusion.
At the far end of the spectrum are those on the one hand who believe that David Kato's death is being shamelessly used by the "Gay Lobby," and on the other hand by those who believe David Kato's murder in the midst of the struggle is a formative moment in the movement for full inclusion of the LGBT community in the larger society.
What are we to make of all this?
My sense is we need to keep several matters in focus:
(i) David Kato was murdered. There is nothing he has done or not done that makes it any less murder. He was the victim.
(ii) His witness and activism were important to the campaign against the Anti-homosexuality bill in Uganda and are reasons for his being well known. They are not reasons that justify in any way his death.
(iii) His death provides a context in which to raise our attention again to Uganda's anti-gay stance and the general obscenity of anti-gay laws, rhetoric, hate language and hate crimes found in many countries.
Whatever the reason for David's murder, it is a compelling moment, in which various religions and political leaders have spoken out against homophobia and hate mongering. That is entirely appropriate.
(iv) He is a witness to the need for justice, but his death may not be directly the result of such witness or the basis of his witness. He may or not be a martyr. The determination of that is for another day.
(v) The report of his funeral also gives us an additional witness to the level and obscenity of hate: His funeral was the occasion for a diatribe against gay people and gay activism and the abandonment by the "official" church of care for him or his family.
I believe it is important to stay focused:
David was a witness by virtue of what he did in life, not by the particulars of his murder. He is a witness for justice. He may or may not be a martyr - that is he may or may not have been killed for his witness.
The Church of Uganda provided local leadership for his funeral that failed him in death. Nothing has been heard from the Church of Uganda. Apparently he was of such insignificance to the Church of Uganda that his death did not warrant comment.
David Kato was reportedly in the forefront of the effort to keep the anti-homosexual bill from passing the Uganda legislature. Perhaps that is why the Church is silent, for while it had reservations about the death penalty in the bill it approved the general goals of the bill, to so restrict the activities of gay and lesbian Ugandans that they would not dare to gather for any purposes concerning their grievances or concerns with the government.
When will the Church of Uganda have anything to say about all this?
I have read several comments on conservative blogs that suggest that David Kato was murdered in a robbery or worse by someone who lived in his house and was perhaps insane, and that such facts (if they are the facts) makes his death perfectly ordinary. Perhaps so.
What is extraordinary is that he died convinced that the proposed anti-homosexual law was wrong and needed to be overturned, he died not having flinched from his witness by the sordid listing (with photos) of leaders among the LGBT community worthy of being hung, and that his death went officially unnoticed by the Church of Uganda but morned by many elsewhere in Anglicanland.
He lived in witness beyond the church, he died with his church being unwilling or uncaring in its response, he is becoming a marker in the long road to full inclusion.