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Thursday, 27 January 2011

LGBTI activist in Uganda believed murdered

Activist David Kato, RIP
Donations can be made in David’s memory to bring more legal and human rights work to Uganda, as well as providing safety and sanctuary for other Ugandans facing persecution by clicking HERE.

Source: Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG)

Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) and the entire Ugandan Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex Community stands together to condemn the killing of David Kato and call for the Ugandan Government, Civil Society, and Local Communities to protect sexual minorities across Uganda.

David was brutally beaten to death in his home today, 26 January 2011, around 2pm. Across the entire country, straight, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex Ugandans mourn the loss of David, a dear friend, colleague, teacher, family member, and human rights defender.  

David has been receiving death threats since his face was put on the front page of Rolling Stone Magazine, which called for his death and the death of all homosexuals. David’s death comes directly after the Supreme Court of Uganda ruled that people must stop inciting violence against homosexuals and must respect the right to privacy and human dignity. 

Sexual Minorities Uganda and the Ugandan Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Intersex Community call on the Police and the Government of Uganda to seriously investigate the circumstances surrounding David’s death. We also call on religious leaders, political leaders and media houses to stop demonizing sexual minorities in Uganda since doing so creates a climate of violence against gay persons.

Val Kalende, the Chair of the Board at Freedom and Roam Uganda stated that:
“David’s death is a result of the hatred planted in Uganda by U.S Evangelicals in 2009. The Ugandan Government and the so-called U.S Evangelicals must take responsibility for David’s blood!”

As United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recently declared:
“I understand that sexual orientation and gender identity raise sensitive cultural issues.  But cultural practices cannot justify any violation of human rights. . .  . When our fellow humans are persecuted because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, we must speak out. . . . States bear the primary responsibility to protect human rights advocates.  I call on all States to ensure the freedom of expression and the freedom of assembly that make their work possible.  When the lives of human rights advocates are endangered, we are all less secure.  When the voices of human rights advocates are silenced, justice itself is drowned out.”
David’s life was cut short in a brutal manner. David will be deeply missed by his family and friends, his students, and Human Rights organizations throughout Uganda and around the world.

Speaking about what the death of David means in the struggle for equality, Frank Mugisha, the Executive Director of Sexual Minorities Uganda 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.”

Burial arrangements are underway for Friday 28, 2011 at 2PM at his ancestral home in Namataba, Mukono District.


London-based group Justice For Gay Africans has commented on Kato's apparent murder:
Such is the life of gay people across many African countries and such is the ease with which anyone can attack them. For this assailant in Uganda, he had the boldness to do this horrible crime in broad daylight at 1pm [as reported] because he has the confidence that rarely would anyone care? Yes, after all, he is ‘cleansing the land’.
In a country where a bill is still in the Parliament, condoned and possibly going to be passed into law proposing the hanging to death of gay men and women, motivating homophobia and hate by insisting families must report to the police once they know someone is gay. The same bill insist that health workers, spiritual leaders, communities and everyone to behave in such manners. The introduction claims it is trying safeguard the tradition of Uganda, etc.

Why, with all the above impunity, would anyone not feel bold enough to attack gay people in Uganda? Why, with such an unbridled homophobia, would anyone not feel confident to execute murder in such open-field manner?
From Gay Uganda:
So, of course we are scared. Too many rumours swimming around. Too easy to do something that we would regret later. Now, maybe it is just time to cry and mourn our loss, however we do that.
Kato had expressed fear for his safety after the verdict, telling AlertNet:
“Since we got exposed by Rolling Stone, we have been living like fugitives in our own country,” he said. “We have to keep shifting houses for fear of being attacked. Some of the gays have decided to leave the city and head to rural areas in order to protect themselves.”
Human Rights Watch has demanded that the death be investigated and has more details about what happened.
"Witnesses told police that a man entered Kato's home in Mukono at around 1 p.m. on January 26, 2011, hit him twice in the head and departed in a vehicle. Kato died on his way to Kawolo hospital. Police told Kato's lawyer that they had the registration number of the vehicle and were looking for it."
The Chair of the Subcommittee on Human Rights, the Co-President of the Africa Caribbean Pacific Joint Parliamentary Assembly, and the Co-Presidents of the Intergroup on LGBT Rights in the European Parliament have issued a joint statement.

Heidi Hautala, Chair of the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights, said:
“The Subcommittee on Human Rights was adamant that LGBT human rights defenders in Uganda face grave threats for their lives and dignity. I call on the European External Action Service and Member States in Kampala to provide their unconditional assistance to LGBT human rights defenders, and pressure their Ugandan counterparts to decriminalise homosexuality.”
The President of the European Parliament, Jerzy Buzek, called for an investigation into the death of Kato:
"I call for the perpetrators of this crime to be brought to justice.  He was a remarkable human rights defender."
In the Huffington Post Emma Ruby-Sachs calls for the US to cut all foreign aid to Uganda unless the state “stands up for its LGBT citizens”.

David in conversation with Dr Andy Tucker (Deputy Director, University of Cambridge Centre for Gender Studies) on the current life threatening situation faced by sexual minority groups in Uganda and the continued struggle for sexuality-based rights, February 2010.

The Stop AIDS Campaign of the UK Consortium on AIDS and International Development are organising a vigil at 11am (to coincide with David' funeral) at the Ugandan High Commission, Trafalgar Sq., London tomorrow (28 January).
Activists in Kenya are organising a vigil for tomorrow at 10am in Nairobi.

ILGA-Europe staff joined a demo today, organised by various Belgian LGBTI organisations, outside the Belgian Foreign Ministry in Brussels. Pictures.

A rally has been organised for outside the embassy of Uganda in Paris Monday, Jan. 31, from 17:30 to 18:30.

Peter Tatchell said:
"I salute David and his immense, brave contribution to LGBTI human rights in Uganda.

"He was an inspiring campaigner of long and great commitment.

"David will live on in our memories. He will also live on through the rights and equalities that LGBTI Ugandans will win eventually thanks to his many years of tireless groundwork and campaigning. 

"I express my admiration and appreciation to all the members of SMUG who are battling for LGBTI freedom in conditions of great adversity and danger. Their courage and tenacity is awesome.

"This savage killing will, I hope, finally prompt Uganda's political, religious and media leaders to cease their homophobic witch-hunts. Their hatred helps create the bigoted atmosphere that leads to queer-bashing violence.

"I urge the government of Uganda to withdraw the 'kill the gays' Anti-Homosexuality Bill, decriminalise same-sex relations and legislate protection for LGBTI people against discrimination and hate crimes."
The Commonwealth has put out a statement:
We note that Mr. Kato has been the subject of much vitriolic media coverage due to his sexual orientation, and that this may have contributed to his violent death.

We deplore hate crimes of any nature and the vilification and targeting of gay and lesbian people run counter to the fundamental values of the Commonwealth, which include non-discrimination on any grounds.
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