The Liu Institute for Global Issues is shocked and saddened by the murder last Wednesday of David Kato, an internationally known Ugandan gay rights activist. David Kato was a champion of human rights and considered the father of Uganda’s gay rights movement. David served as the advocacy officer for Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) and worked tirelessly for understanding and acceptance for the lesbian, gay, transsexual, bisexual and queer communities in Uganda and elsewhere.
As the one of the most outspoken gay rights advocates living in Uganda, David Kato was active in the fight against the “Anti-Homosexuality Bill” proposed in October 2009 and still pending. The bill would make homosexuality illegal and certain homosexual acts punishable by death. Fueled by anti-homosexual campaigns of Christian fundamentalists from the United States, violence and persecution of sexual minorities in Uganda has sharply risen causing many to seek amnesty in Europe, Canada, and the United States out of fear for their lives.
In October 2010, David Kato was among the 100 people whose names, faces, and addresses were published for being “alleged homosexual” by the Ugandan newspaper Rolling Stone. Under the headline, “Hang them” David’s picture was placed on the front page. In the months afterwards and under increasing threats to his life, David along with other local and international activists challenged the Rolling Stone’s action as a violation of human rights. On January 3, 2011, the High Court of Uganda ruled that the Rolling Stone violated the civil rights of Kato and the other individuals accused in the paper.
While the motive for David Kato’s murder has not yet been determined, the Liu Institute for Global Issues is very concerned about the rise in violence and hate speech against homosexuals and lesbians in many parts of Africa. We call upon the Ugandan government to carry out a full and fair investigation into David’s death and hold the perpetrators accountable. The hatred generated by the Anti-Homosexuality bill, as well as the hate speech fostered by Evangelical preachers from the United States and Uganda has caused an intolerable and violent situation to develop in the country. The Liu Institute calls upon President Museveni to reject the thinly veiled hate in the bill, and instead enact legislation for the protection of sexual minorities in order to prevent future tragedies like the murder of David Kato from happening again.