Letter to Ugandan Government Calling for Condmenation of Death of LGBT Activist David Kato

H.E. Ambassador Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda

Permanent Mission of Uganda to the United Nations

Uganda House

336 East 45th Street

New York, NY 10017

February 3, 2011

Dear Ambassador Rugunda,

We, the undersigned twenty-one human rights and HIV/AIDS organizations, are writing to express our solidarity with Uganda’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) communities in its hour of grief over the killing of human rights defender David Kato on January 26, 2011. We join rights activists in Uganda and around the world to demand that the Ugandan government immediately denounce David’s murder and thoroughly and impartially investigate this heinous crime. It is also imperative that the Ugandan government publicly and immediately commits itself to protecting the safety of all LGBT Ugandans.

David Kato was our friend. He was a leader of the Ugandan LGBT movement. He was also a human rights defender known and respected around the world. We acknowledge reports that authorities have arrested suspects and have taken other steps to investigate this crime. Nevertheless, the immediate conclusions voiced by Ugandan authorities that his murder was unrelated to a spreading and violent climate of hate seem premature and intended to obstruct rather than further a full investigation, unless those authorities can cite direct evidence supporting their precipitate claims.

We urge your government in the strongest terms to distance itself from politically motivated explanations and exculpations and to oversee an impartial criminal inquiry into this murder.

In this light, it is also urgent and long overdue that the Ugandan government express its clear opposition to the pending “Anti-Homosexuality Bill,” condemn all forms of discrimination and incitement to violence directed at anyone because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and speak out against the climate of hatred generated by this proposed law.

The Ugandan Constitution clearly affirms that all Ugandans enjoy rights to privacy, expression, and association. The “Anti-Homosexuality Bill” would violate all these rights, as well as National Objective 5(2) of the Ugandan Constitution, which provides that "the State shall guarantee and respect the independence of non-governmental organizations which protect and promote human rights." Moreover, the bill directly contravenes the rights to equality and freedom from discrimination (Article 21), privacy (Article 27), and freedoms of speech, expression, association, and assembly (Article 29), the protection of minorities (Article 36), and the protection of civic rights and activities (Article 38) to which all Ugandans are entitled.

The “Anti-Homosexuality Bill” violates the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and other international human rights treaties to which Uganda is a party. This bill undermines Uganda's commitment to the international human rights regime and threatens the basic human rights of all its citizens.

The murder of David Kato also has important implications for the AIDS crisis in Uganda. Effective HIV prevention activities in Uganda rely on the ability to talk frankly about sexuality issues. David’s killing, and the atmosphere the proposed law promotes, will further drive such discussions and whole populations underground, impeding effective outreach, prevention and treatment programs and options.

We urge your government to thoroughly investigate this killing and prosecute the perpetrators to the fullest extent of the law; to recognize and respond effectively to the climate of hate that surrounds it; to reject the proposed “Anti-Homosexuality Bill”; and to ensure the enjoyment of constitutional and human rights protections by all Ugandans, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Sincerely,

African Services Committee

AIDS Community Research Initiative of America

amfAR: The Foundation for AIDS Research

Amnesty International

Center for Constitutional Rights

Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies – CUNY Graduate Center

Center for Women’s Global Leadership

Council on Global Equality

Global Justice Institute

Health GAP

Human Rights Campaign

Human Rights Watch

Immigration Equality

International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center

Make the Road New York – Globe/PRYDE

Metropolitan Community Church

None on Record: Stories of Queer Africa

Political Research Associates

Queers for Economic Justice

Stonewall Community Foundation

CC:

President of The Republic of Uganda, H.E Yoweri Museveni


Inspector General of Police, Major Kale Kayihura
Police

Minister of Justice, Hon. Makubuya Kiddu