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film review

Homophobic sentiment in Uganda was overtly expressed by one newpaper which published the names, addresses and photos of people suspected to be gay.

When the Ugandan gay rights activist David Kato was murdered by hammer blows in 2011, international public outcry was sufficient to stall the legislative bill that, in part, had driven Kato to become the first openly gay man in the central African nation.

Still the subject of vigorous debate in the country, the bill called for the death penalty for any homosexual man or woman with AIDS or HIV. By directors Katherine Fairfax Wright and Malika Zouhali-Worrall, Call Me Kuchu (kuchu is Ugandan slang for homosexual) provides a stirring, heartbreaking and thoroughly infuriating account of Kato's struggle – he was alive when the team started filming – which involved not only fighting the bill, but confronting an entire culture of virulent homophobia.

At the time, a newspaper in Kampala printed the names, photos and addresses of people who are believed to be gay; pastors stirred up hatred among their flocks; terrorist attacks were blamed on gay people; and the practice known as "curative rape" was widespread.

Even in death, Kato has been harassed. In one of this movie's many unsettling scenes, a pastor interrupts his funeral to condemn the dead man to eternal damnation. Meanwhile, support for the bill is very much alive.

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