The Violence is Not out Culture campaign condemns the brutal murder on 26 January 2011 of LGBT human rights defender, David Kato, of Uganda and extends its condolences to his colleagues at Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG). David was a long term activist for rights based on sexual orientation and gender identity in Uganda, and was a highly respected and admired human rights defender within his community and worldwide.
David’s murder comes only three weeks after successfully suing a tabloid paper for calling for him, along with many others, to be hung for his sexual orientation. Whilst the Ugandan police have stated that there is no evidence his murder was a hate crime, homophobia in Uganda is on the rise.
National dialogue and understanding of homosexuality in Uganda is widely known to being strongly influenced by American Evangelical Christians, some of whom visited the country and took part in an anti-homosexuality conference that immediately preceded the filing of the anti-homosexuality bill in the parliament in 2009. The first draft of the bill called for the death sentence as a punishment for ‘repeat offenders’ of homosexuality. If it becomes law, the bill would violate international human rights law and lead to further human rights violations. David Kato was one of the main advocates campaigning against the bill, and received numerous death threats for his activism.
At the funeral for David Kato, the Anglican priest conducting the service broke into a rant condemning homosexuals, after which activists took over and buried the body. An excommunicated priest who has also campaigned for rights relating to sexual orientation conducted the rest of the service.
The Violence is Not our Culture campaign denounces the use of culture or religion as the justification for the hatred and violence being sowed against the LGBTI community in Uganda. We hold the Government of Uganda accountable in ensuring full investigations into the death of David Kato. Now more than ever is the time for the authorities to reassure Ugandans that it will protect them against threats and violence regardless of their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. The government must provide guarantees that members of Uganda's LGBT community have adequate protection from violence and will take prompt action against all threats or hate speech likely to incite violence, discrimination, or hostility toward them.
Monday, 31 January 2011