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Thursday, 26 January 2012

Uganda: Activists pay tribute to David Kato one year since murder

Gay rights activists in Uganda on Thursday paid tribute to murdered gay rights defender, David Kato, one year after his murder.
More than 100 activists, human rights defenders and allies to Uganda’s gay community remembered David Kato as a distinguished campaign for equality at a memorial service in held in Kampala.
His killer, Nsubuga Sydney, was sentenced to 30 years in jail on his own plea of guilty when charged with killing Kato.
Bishop Christopher Senyonjo during the David Kato remembrance mass
Retired Bishop Christopher Senyonjo, the head of the St. Paul Reconciliation and Equality Centre (SPREC) and US based pastor, Joseph Tolton said the mass.
Kato’s mother, sisters and family members attended the function.
Known to the Ugandan LGBTI community as Nnalongo (mother of twins) Kato’s mother said she was thankful for the love extended to her in the last one year since her son’s death.
She said often Kato’s friends had shown her “love, care and compassion” whenever she had been depressed thinking of her son, and that this generosity of spirit had kept her going.
Bishop Senyonjo spoke of David Kato as a selfless leader who served the gay community in Uganda to challenge discrimination and stigma for homosexuals. “I respect you all homosexuals. And my message is a message of love as God’s children,” Bishop Senyonjo said during the sermon.
Pastor Tolton said he stood by the US Episcopalian Church’s inclusion of gay ministers in the church. He said, “The fear that was meant to be instilled in the Ugandan homosexual community after Kato’s death had been broken by God.”
Bishop Senyonjo said that Kato lives on, and that although he had been killed to instil fear among the Ugandan gay community, homosexuals had prevailed.
One after the other, friends of David Kato spoke of him as a leader saying he had leadership qualities worth emulating, while others prayed for his soul to rest in peace.
One activist, Moses Kimbugwe, challenged the gay movement to set up an education fund for homosexuals who dropped out of school due to stigma and discrimination. “This was one of David Kato’s dreams. I challenge all of us to find ways of setting up this education fund,” Kimbugwe said.
Other activists who paid tribute to Kato included Frank Mugisha, the head of Sexual Minorities Uganda ( SMUG) where Kato worked, John Wambere, and Thomas Ndayigiragije, an official with Amnesty International’s, Kampala office.
They all praised David for the good work he had done. Mugisha said Kato was the Godfather of gay rights activism and challenged all activists to carry his vision and mission forth. Ndayiragije said it is not how long some one live that matters, but what they have done in life.
He added that Kato lives on. He said his name would always be remembered.

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