David France's powerful How To Survive a Plague, recording the battle to obtain treatment in the early days of the AIDS crisis, has deservedly been nominated for a Best Documentary Oscar. But those who think those days are over, that AIDS has since been curtailed if not cured, and that the majority of Americans support the President's call for legalizing gay marriage, shouldn't feel the problem is solved. Not here, and as Katherine Fairfax Wright and Malika Zouhali-Worrall's eloquent, devastating documentary points out, not in Uganda.
There, a bill criminalizing homosexuality and imposing sentences of death for "aggravated" offenses, is pending in the country's Parliament. But David Kato and his fellow LGBT activists (they embrace the Ugandan word for gays, "kuchu") have more pressing concerns. A tabloid has published pictures of gay Ugandans with the headline "Hang Them." Local churches, spurred on by visiting American evangelists, have provoked mob demon-strations calling for eradication of the homosexual "threat."
Wright and Zouhali-Worrall follow their subjects unobtrusively, focusing on Kato, a lovely, saintly man. They give time to the opposition as well, including the managing editor of the inflammatory tabloid and to the preacher Pastor Maelle, whose fanatical intolerance contrasts brutally with Kato's compassion.
Today the situation remains fraught. Perversely, Uganda's proposed anti-homosexual legislation has inspired other countries, such as Russia, to pursue anti-gay laws of their own.