Uganda: Murder of Gay Activist Must Be Investigated

Press Release
January 27, 2011

Uganda: Murder of Gay Activist Must Be Investigated

Amnesty International Press Release
For Immediate Release
Thursday, January 27, 2011

Amnesty International Demands Investigation Into Killing of Gay Rights Activist in Uganda

Activist David Kato Attacked Outside His Home

Contact: Suzanne Trimel, 212-633-4150, strimel@aiusa.org

(London) -- Amnesty International today demanded that Uganda conduct a credible investigation into the “appalling” attack that killed David Kato, a gay activist who successfully sued a national newspaper that pictured him in an article among “100 Top Ugandan Homos.”

David Kato, the advocacy officer for the organization Sexual Minorities Uganda, died on his way to the hospital on Wednesday afternoon, after he was hit on the head by an unknown attacker at his home in the Mukono district, outside Kampala.

"Amnesty International is appalled by the shocking murder of David Kato," said Michelle Kagari, Amnesty International's deputy director for Africa. "The Ugandan government must immediately ensure a credible and impartial investigation into his murder."

"It is deeply worrying that the Ugandan government has been so conspicuously silent about discriminatory rhetoric against LGBT people in Uganda," Kagari continued. "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."

"Any persons suspected of involvement in the murder must be brought to justice in a fair trial which complies with international standards."

Kato had urged authorities to take action to end discrimination against LGBT people in Uganda, particularly in tabloid newspapers which have been publishing the names, pictures and personal details of people they believe to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered.

Last October, Rolling Stone, a weekly Ugandan tabloid paper launched last year by university graduates, published what it labeled "100 Pictures Of Uganda's Top Homos." Another article had the headline "hang them" above a list of names and photos.

On January 3, a High Court judge ruled against Rolling Stone in a case filed against the tabloid by Kato and two other activists.

Judge Vincent Musoke-Kibuuke banned the tabloid from revealing the identities of LGBT people and extended the ruling to all Ugandan media.

The Court ruled that “the exposure of the identities of the persons and homes of the applicants for the purposes of fighting gayism and the activities of gays...threaten the rights of the applicants to privacy of the person and their homes.”

The two other activists with whom Kato filed the case have also reported threats to their lives.

In recent years human rights organizations including Amnesty International have documented the steady increase in discrimination, arbitrary arrests, incommunicado detention, torture and other ill-treatment on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in Uganda, and against activists exposing violations against LGBT people.

Sexual Minorities Uganda and other organizations has been at the forefront of advocating against the Anti-Homosexuality Bill published on September 25, 2009.

If it becomes law this legislation would violate international human rights law and lead to further human rights violations.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.

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For more information, please visit: www.amnestyusa.org.