Brussels/Mexico-City, January 26, 2011 – ILGA the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association is appalled and shocked by the murder of gay rights activist David Kato in Uganda on Wednesday. Contrary to earlier reports that Kato’s body was found by neighbors in his house in Kampala on Wednesday hacked on the head with a hammer, a later police report suggests there was at least one witness to the attack and that Kato died on the way to the hospital. From Mexico-city ILGA’s co-secretary-general, Gloria Careaga issued a forceful demand to Uganda´s authorities, to stop the persecution and violence against LGBTI people and to thoroughly and promptly investigate “this hideous crime”. “We demand justice and respect. Our international work is based on the phrase ‘Nobody is safe until everybody is safe’, Careaga stated.
Kato’s murder comes only weeks after the Uganda Supreme Court told the local magazine ‘Rolling Stone’ to stop publishing names of prominent Ugandan alleged homosexuals and calling for them to be hanged. It now seems someone apparently took up the magazine’s call and David Kato, who was out already as gay man and LGBTI activist has become the first lethal victim of the magazine’s hate call. Careaga: “First we need to mourn David and celebrate his life and legacy, while giving comfort and support to his family, friends and fellow-activists in Uganda and all over the world. But then we will have to ensure that his death proves that the wave of hate towards LGBTI people in Africa and particularly in Uganda must be stopped and turned around". She quoted a statement of Kato in an interview by the New Internationalist Magazine last year: ‘I can’t run away and leave the people I am protecting. People might die, but me, I will be the last one to run out of here’. “David Kato did not run, and he died. We cannot leave his work undone” Gloria Careaga stressed. Her remarks were later seconded by ILGA’s other co-secretary-general assigned with among others African Affairs, Renato Sabbadini.
David Kato visited the ILGA’s headquarter in Brussels as recently as march last year on a tour of European institutions and governments to boost support against the Ugandan law proposal aiming to make homosexuality punishable by death. Kato has been arrested three times for his activism and faced innumerable other forms of harassment and assault. A long-time activist, Kato had earned the title of ‘grandfather of the kuchus’ – as gay men in Kampala call themselves – for his work on behalf of people in the LGBT community. In the past he has sheltered many people in his home, visited them in prison and worked for their release. He worked as the advocacy and litigation officer for SMUG, Sexual Minorities Uganda, Uganda’s main LGBTI Rights group. David Kato’s murder ironically comes on the same day that United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon made the strongest call ever by the UN for an end to human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
ILGA Press Officer