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Sunday, 31 July 2011

Video: In Yorkshire, David Kato remembered at Pride event

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Saturday's Gay Pride event in the northern English city of York was dedicated to Ugandan gay activist David Kato, who was a student at York University's Centre for Applied Human Rights in 2009 and 2010. Kato was beaten to death in January in his own home near Kampala, Uganda.

Mayor David Horton and MP Hugh Bayley release the balloons
The city's Lord Mayor Susan Galloway David Horton and MP Hugh Bayley joined in a minute's silence followed by a mass release of rainbow coloured balloons to commemorate Kato's life and work.

MP Hugh Bayley, who launched the balloons, said:
“David Kato was very brave to campaign for equal rights for homosexuals in Uganda."

"He made many friends in York during his time at the university, and they were appalled and devastated when he was murdered shortly after he returned to his own country. I hope his shocking death will prompt the Ugandan Parliament to step back from passing laws which victimise and discriminate against gay men and women.”
Dan Sidley, chairman of York Pride 2011, said:
“We are determined to use Pride 2011 and the tragic murder of David Kato to spread the message that there is still much to be done to eradicate hate and violence against the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community.”
Kato was well known in the LGBT community of York. He was murdered in his own home in January of this year, shortly after winning a court case against a newspaper in Uganda which had published his name and photograph identifying him as homosexual and calling for him to be executed.

David's murder was immediately decried by U.S President Barack Obama, U.S Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the European Union. "I am deeply saddened to learn of the murder," President Obama said. "David showed tremendous courage in speaking out against hate. He was a powerful advocate for fairness and freedom."

Lena Barrett, the fellowship scheme manager at the University's Centre for Human Rights, said Mr Kato met her family during his visit to York and described him as “a wonderful human being”. She received an email from him 24 hours before he was killed, voicing his fears about his safety. She said:
“At the start of January, David was celebrating a major success. He had persuaded a Ugandan court to issue an injunction against a local newspaper which had demanded that he and other identified gay activists were killed."

“Almost exactly a year ago, David arrived at the Centre to undertake a protective fellowship, designed to support human rights defenders at risk. He wanted support in his fight against the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which threatened the death penalty for “repeat offenders”."

“He had a great sense of mischief and loved to shock with scurrilous stories.” 
She said when he returned home, his bags were “overflowing with presents” and said: “The world is poorer for his loss.”

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