A Ugandan gay rights campaigner who sued a newspaper for publishing the names and photos of gay people has been beaten to death.

David Kato’s death is being investigated by police and activists say he was attacked in his home near Kampala yesterday afternoon.

His name, photograph and address were published by the tabloid newspaper Rolling Stone last year and he is said to have received death threats.

Mr Kato, along with a few others, complained to a judge about Rolling Stone’s anti-gay campaign and the newspaper was ordered to cease outing gays and lesbians.

Sexual Minorities Uganda called him a “dear friend, colleague, teacher, family member and human rights defender”.

Frank Mugisha, of the group, said: “No form of intimidation will stop our cause. The death of David will only be honored when the struggle for justice and equality is won. David is gone and many of us will follow, but the struggle will be won. David wanted to see a Uganda where all people will be treated equally despite their sexual orientation.”

The Human Rights Campaign has called for a full investigation into his death.

Homosexuality is illegal in Uganda and an MP introduced a bill last year to punish “aggravated” cases with the death penalty.

Giles Muhame, the editor of Rolling Stone, told Reuters he condemned the murder but still wanted the government to hang gay people.

He said: “If he has been murdered, that’s bad and we pray for his soul.

“There has been a lot of crime, it may not be because he is gay. We want the government to hang people who promote homosexuality, not for the public to attack them. We said they should be hanged, not stoned or attacked.”

News of Mr Kato’s death came as a Ugandan lesbian being held in Yarl’s Wood detention centre said she would be killed if sent home.

Brenda Namigadde is expected to be deported tomorrow. Her asylum claim was rejected partly because it was judged that there was not enough evidence to show she is gay.

She told the Guardian: “I’ll be tortured or killed if I’m sent back to Uganda. They’ve put people like me to death there. Most of my friends in Uganda have disappeared.”