Friday, 28 January 2011

London vigil for murdered Ugandan activist David Kato; delivery of Brenda Namigadde petition

The UK's new Home Secretary, Theresa May, givi...Theresa May image via Wikipedia

The petition which sends email messages to Home Secretary  Theresa May to stop the removal of Ugandan lesbian asylum seeker Brenda Namigadde is passed 40,000 at 4pm GMT today and is adding many thousands every hour. Her office has said they are "deluged." As well many hundreds, if not more, supporters have sent individual emails and there is at least one other petition.

The petition was delivered to May at 12.30pm today, when that number stood at 22,000.

A vigil in memory of murdered Ugandan activist David Kato at 11am today (to coincide with David's funeral) at the Ugandan High Commission, demanded that Brenda not be removed.

Photos by James Murray.

Photos by The Stop AIDS Campaign

Source: The Stop AIDS Campaign

The Stop AIDS Campaign led a coalition of organisations and individuals in a vigil outside the Ugandan High Commission in Trafalgar Square today following the horrific murder of Ugandan gay rights activist David Kato who was beaten to death in Kampala on Wednesday. Over 70 people joined the vigil to remember a friend and colleague and to demand an end to persecution of minorities in Uganda.

Through his work at Sexual Minorities in Uganda, Kato was a brave voice speaking out for the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in an ever more hostile environment. Uganda has seen a sharp rise in homophobia led by religious leaders, politicians and the press.

Diarmaid McDonald, Stop AIDS Campaign Coordinator said:
“David’s life was ended brutally because he fought for his rights, for equality in Uganda. Now serious questions must be asked of the Ugandan government and how they will respond to a murder which has clearly been provoked by the atmosphere of homophobic hatred and fear whipped up by politicians, religious leaders and the Ugandan press. We are here to call for justice for David, and human rights and equality for all Ugandans, regardless of their sexuality.”
A letter of protest was formally submitted to the High Commissioner by Ben Simms, Director of the UK Consortium on AIDS and International Development, veteran gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, Sir Nick Partridge of The Terrence Higgins Trust and Canon Gideon Byamugisha, an ordained priest in the Church of Uganda. They were joined by many representatives from key international NGOs, including Christian AID, CAFOD, VSO, World Vision, IPPF, HelpAge International and Interact Worldwide.

The letter called upon the Ugandan President and his government to condemn this brutal murder in the strongest possible terms and to assert the universal human rights of all Ugandan citizens.

In November 2010 Kato was in the UK speaking at a conference organised by the UK Consortium on AIDS and International Development on HIV care and support, bringing the needs of LGBT peoples living with HIV and AIDS to the forefront of the international development agenda.

Dieneke ter Huurne, Chair of the UK Consortium on AIDS and International Development, said:
“We are deeply saddened and angered by the tragic death of our friend and colleague. Despite facing discrimination and persecution himself, David campaigned unrelentingly with passion and courage in order to give human rights issues in Uganda a voice on the world stage.

“We were all impacted by David’s dedication. He called for human rights to be integrated into the development of care and support for people living with HIV and AIDS across Africa and brought to life the shocking criminalisation of LGBT communities in Uganda. We call on the UK government to take action to condemn the ongoing violation of human rights against LGBT communities in Uganda and other African countries.”
An increase in homophobia in Uganda had seen Kato and other gay rights activists living in fear. Stoked by religious extremists a media campaign culminated in the publication of the photographs, names and addresses of gay people in a tabloid paper. A bill was introduced to parliament which, if passed would mean sentences of life imprisonment for homosexuals, and death for 'repeat offenders'.

The murder has heaped pressure on Home Secretary Theresa May to reverse a decision to deport Ugandan, Brenda Namigadde, who is a lesbian, from the UK. Some of those attending the vigil carried a petition organised by All Out ( which was signed by over 30,000 people from around the world calling on May to halt the deportation which was due to go ahead today, Friday.

McDonald, added:
“Theresa May must listen to the voices of 30,000 people and the look at the stark evidence of David Kato's murder. The UK government must stop the deportation of Brenda Namigadde, or she could face the same fate as David.”

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