Ugandan LGBT advocate David Kato Kisulle was found murdered Wednesday at his home in Kampala. According to Human Rights Watch, Kato was hit in the head twice by a man who then escaped in a car, for which police apparently have the registration number. Kato died on the way to the hospital.
Kato was featured on the front cover of the Sept 2, 2010 issue of the Ugandan Rolling Stone newspaper (no connection with the US Rolling Stone magazine) and had gained notoriety as the spokesperson for Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), according to Box Turtle Bulletin, which has been doing some Pulitzer Prize-winning reporting on the situation in Uganda, especially the connection between the Anti-Homosexuality Bill and the C Street-based right wing Christian group known as “The Family.” Kato was one of three pictured under the headline “Hang Them!” and was involved in securing a permanent injunction against the tabloid.
UPDATE: STATEMENT FROM PRESIDENT OBAMA:
“I am deeply saddened to learn of the murder of David Kato. In Uganda, David showed tremendous courage in speaking out against hate. He was a powerful advocate for fairness and freedom. The United States mourns his murder, and we recommit ourselves to David’s work.
At home and around the world, LGBT persons continue to be subjected to unconscionable bullying, discrimination, and hate. In the weeks preceding David Kato’s murder in Uganda, five members of the LGBT community in Honduras were also murdered. It is essential that the Governments of Uganda and Honduras investigate these killings and hold the perpetrators accountable.
LGBT rights are not special rights; they are human rights. My Administration will continue to strongly support human rights and assistance work on behalf of LGBT persons abroad. We do this because we recognize the threat faced by leaders like David Kato, and we share their commitment to advancing freedom, fairness, and equality for all.”
In a statement issued Wednesday, Sec. of State Hillary Clinton said the US was “profoundly saddened” by Kato’s murder and urged Ugandan authorities “to quickly and thoroughly investigate and prosecute those responsible for this heinous act.”
“We are profoundly saddened by the loss of Ugandan human rights defender David Kato, who was brutally murdered in his home near Kampala yesterday. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends, and colleagues. We urge Ugandan authorities to quickly and thoroughly investigate and prosecute those responsible for this heinous act.
David Kato tirelessly devoted himself to improving the lives of others. As an advocate for the group Sexual Minorities Uganda, he worked to defend the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals. His efforts resulted in groundbreaking recognition for Uganda’s LGBT community, including the Uganda Human Rights Commission’s October 2010 statement on the unconstitutionality of Uganda’s draft “anti-homosexuality bill” and the Ugandan High Court’s January 3 ruling safeguarding all Ugandans’ right to privacy and the preservation of human dignity. His tragic death underscores how critical it is that both the government and the people of Uganda, along with the international community, speak out against the discrimination, harassment, and intimidation of Uganda’s LGBT community, and work together to ensure that all individuals are accorded the same rights and dignity to which each and every person is entitled.
Everywhere I travel on behalf of our country, I make it a point to meet with young people and activists — people like David — who are trying to build a better, stronger future for their societies. I let them know that America stands with them, and that their ideas and commitment are indispensible to achieving the progress we all seek.
This crime is a reminder of the heroic generosity of the people who advocate for and defend human rights on behalf of the rest of us — and the sacrifices they make. And as we reflect on his life, it is also an occasion to reaffirm that human rights apply to everyone, no exceptions, and that the human rights of LGBT individuals cannot be separated from the human rights of all persons.
Our ambassadors and diplomats around the world will continue to advance a comprehensive human rights policy, and to stand with those who, with their courage, make the world a more just place where every person can live up to his or her God-given potential. We honor David’s legacy by continuing the important work to which he devoted his life.”
Longtime human rights activist Peter Tachell also issued a statement, which read in part:
“This savage killing will, I hope, finally prompt Uganda’s political, religious and media leaders to cease their homophobic witch-hunts. Their hatred helps create the bigoted atmosphere that leads to queer-bashing violence.
I urge the government of Uganda to withdraw the ‘kill the gays’ Anti-Homosexuality Bill, decriminalise same-sex relations and legislate protection for LGBTI people against discrimination and hate crimes.”
GetEQUAL’s Dan Fotou announced a picket outside the National Prayer Breakfast at the Washington Hilton “to expose The Family’s connection to this annual breakfast, the Ugandan bill and the hysteria that stems from The Family’s gay-hating agenda and mission to exterminate us.” The picket is on Thursday, Feb. 3 from 6:00am to 8:00am on the sidewalk outside the Washington Hilton Hotel, 1919 Connecticut Ave, NW, Washinton DC 20009. (The Q Street Exit on the Dupont Circle Metro). To RSVP Click Here: http://on.fb.me/flNY4B or e-mail dan@GetEQUAL.org
“National Prayer Breakfast is an ecumenical gathering absent a policy agenda, it is in fact the tentpole event of the year for the clandestine operation “The Family”. This fringe group uses the visibility and support from the National Prayer Breakfast (attended by many politicians and business leaders) and other events to further its world-wide campaign against gay folk. Associates of “The Family” continue to promote a proposed law that would imprison for life and murder LGBT people—just for being who they are—while also criminalizing knowing an LGBT person without reporting them.
“The Family” has invested much in mentoring current and future world leaders, including David Bahati, a Ugandan legislator and author of the Ugandan anti-homosexuality bill (a.k.a. the Ugandan “Kill the Gays” bill).
On the morning of February 3, we’ll gather on the sidewalk outside the Prayer Breakfast to educate the attendees on “The Family’s” role in this annual event, to stand up to their bigotry, and to stop the Family’s interference in Ugandan affairs, which itself has been called a trial run for what they want to happen in the U.S.”
Box Turtle Bulletin reports that the Parliamentary elections are scheduled in Uganda for Feb. 18, and the “Kill the Gays” bill is expected to be considered after Parliament returns for a lame-duck session before the new Parliament begins in May.
“This horrendous murder adds to the fears that LGBT Ugandans regularly face over their safety. Brenda Namigadde, a lesbian asylum seeker in the U.K. has been threatened with deportation back to Uganda. Just yesterday, she received an ominous message from M.P. David Bahati, the author of the infamous Anti-Homosexuality Bill, in which he said that Brenda must “repent or reform” when she returns home:
Brenda is welcome in Uganda if she will abandon or repent her behaviour. Here in Uganda, homosexuality is not a human right. It is behaviour that is learned and it can be unlearned. We wouldn’t want Brenda to be painting a wrong picture of Uganda, that we are harassing homosexuals.
M.P. Bahati may be technically correct. They are simply killing homosexuals, not harassing them.”