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European Parliament Calls on Uganda to Properly Investigate David Kato’s Murder

European Parliament Calls on Uganda to Properly Investigate David Kato’s Murder

Members of the European Parliament this week passed a resolution calling on Ugandan officials to properly investigate the murder of gay rights activist David Kato who was bludgeoned to death near his home in January. The resolution also calls on the Ugandan government to follow international law and protect its LGBT citizens.

From the European Parliament Press Service:

Following the murder of a well-known gay activist in Uganda in January, MEPs in today’s resolution call on the authorities to conduct investigations and bring the perpetrators to justice.

They add that the EU must take Uganda’s discriminatory attitude towards gay people into account in its bilateral relations and they call on the Member States and the EU institutions “to restate the principle that persons at risk of persecution should be considered for refugee status”.

The tragedy was prompted by the publication in the local tabloid “Rolling Stone” in October and November 2010 of a list of names and addresses of over a hundred allegedly homosexual individuals, including David Kato Kisule. The newspaper incited readers to harm or even hang them. Mr Kato, a human rights defender and leader of the gay and lesbian community, sued the newspaper and won his lawsuit but on 26 January this year he was brutally murdered.

Meanwhile, the Ugandan Parliament is considering an “Anti-Homosexuality Bill” tabled in 2009 with the aim of punishing homosexual acts by between seven years’ and life imprisonment or by the death penalty.

MEPs strongly regret that the Ugandan authorities have “nothing to say” about discrimination against homosexuals. The resolution stresses that they are obliged under international law “to protect all persons – regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity”. Parliament has repeatedly tried – so far unsuccessfully – to include an explicit mention of the protection of sexual orientation rights in the revision of the second Cotonou Agreement (governing the EU’s partnership with 79 African, Caribbean and Pacific countries).

David Kato was a member of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) and with the group had sort and secured a court order preventing the further publication of the names and addresses of those the Rolling Stone tabloid (no affiliation to the American publication) had identified among its “Top 100 Homos” list.

Police have now arrested one man, Nsubuga Enock, in connection with Kato’s murder. Enock, who has confessed to killing Kato, reportedly said Kato’s murder was the result of a “personal disagreement” relating to Kato pursuing Enock for sex. Enock, who identifies as heterosexual, said he declined and, after Kato persisted, he bludgeoned Kato to death with a hammer.

U.S. commentators have raised the point that this sounds very much like a version of the so-called “gay panic defense” that was infamously tried and rejected during the U.S. trial concerning murdered Wyoming teenager Matthew Shepard.

Regardless, the Ugandan authorities have been quick to accept this version of events and are adamant that the killing was in no way related to Kato’s activism against the Anti-Homosexuality Bill or that the murder was motivated by simple anti-gay hatred.

Yet, this version of events is heavily disputed by Kato’s close friends who claim that anyone who knew Kato also knew that he would be extremely unlikely to pay for sex and that, at any rate, he would have no money with which to pay as, contrary to media reports, he was extremely poor.

The European Parliament’s resolution comes as WikiLeaks cables released over the past few weeks have revealed that David Kato was mocked by supporters of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill during a speech he delivered at a UN-backed hearing on the legislation.

Other documents specifically refer to the bill’s author David Bahati as a vehement and unchangeable homophobe. They also reveal that even the mere presence of the draft Anti-Homosexuality Bill may have ramped up anti-gay arrests in the country.

From The Guardian
:

In the cable, dated 24 December 2009, the diplomat claimed Ugandan politicians, including the author of the anti-homosexuality bill, David Bahati, had channelled anger at the country’s socio-political failings into “violent hatred” of gay people.

[...]

Under the heading Comment: Homophobic Demagogues, the diplomat reports in the Christmas Eve cable that Bahati, a born-again Christian MP from the ruling party, had become “further isolated” following “recent condemnations” by high-profile Pastor Rick Warren and other US-based individuals who are against the bill. However, it was clear he would not yield to international pressure.

Referring to Bahati, the diplomat said: “His homophobia … is blinding and incurable.”

[...]

In a later cable, dated 16 February 2010, the diplomat reported concerns from activists that the draft bill was already affecting gay people’s lives.

One activist alleged that some gay people had been arrested and detained by authorities and homophobic extremists who were eager to build legal cases in advance of the legislation’s ratification, although the claims were contradicted by another activist who said they were not aware of any arrests. The cable noted that international condemnation of the bill had forced Ugandan leaders to reconsider their initial support of Bahati’s legislation, but that “Ugandan officials continue to give conflicting assessments of the bill’s prognosis”.

The cable concluded “even if the draft bill is shelved in the weeks ahead, rampant homophobia in Uganda won’t go away”.

You can read more on the WikiLeaks cables as relating to the situation in Uganda over at Box Turtle Bulletin.


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Photo used under the Creative Commons Attribution License, with thanks to U.S. Army Africa.

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21 comments

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6:44PM PST on Feb 22, 2011

The Philippines LGBT community expressed its support for Uganda LGBT and demanded justice for David Kato, you can read this from this blog:

http://www.care2.com/causes/human-rights/blog/ep-calls-on-uganda-to-properly-investigate-gay-rights-campaigner-david-katos-murder/

Hope you can share with other readers.

11:42AM PST on Feb 20, 2011

Thanks for the info!

6:52AM PST on Feb 20, 2011

noted

1:36AM PST on Feb 20, 2011

Thanks for the info.

1:17AM PST on Feb 20, 2011

For more background on this situation see 'The most dangerous place in the world to be gay' broadcast recently on BBC 3 (TV Channel) - see www.bbc.co.uk iPlaye in UK, Search BBC America for the US (There is a specific site showing some broadcasts and might be something on www.bbcworldservice.com for most other places.
One commenter suggested that this prejudice has roots pre-christian times. This is completely incorrect (again, see documentary above). Traditional African culture has no set position on homosexuality, and in many tribes, gay men (unsure about women, sorry girls) are actually revered, as they often were in native american tribes. The prejudice came directly with the missionaries. Get your facts straight please.

1:07AM PST on Feb 20, 2011

Homosexuality is considered to be an evil aberration in many African cultures, and few homosexual men and women die natural deaths. Fact of life. Traditional teaching dictated that long before Christianity or Islam even came into it.

So you're up against conveniently so-called 'traditional culture' and a strong self/other condemnation.

Like it or not, most African nations are still, in the Jungian sense recently or partly conscious, still very much of a 'group psyche' and this exacerbates the problem.

Individuality is suspicious, unwanted, and to be rooted out. Clan mind prevails. If it is different and wants to stand out, standing out makes it a target, and targets get hit!

Once again, the primary problem is patriarchal/militaristic governments and senior leaders. Women have pretty much the same value as cattle, too. After all, Lobola is paid - he buys her!

8:29PM PST on Feb 19, 2011

Why stop with Uganda. Why don't they ever come out with any resolution about Muslims countries. In Muslim countries homosexuals are executed by the government.

5:19PM PST on Feb 19, 2011

Thank you for the article, petition signed

4:21PM PST on Feb 19, 2011

Why goes a "gay" man into a country where homosexual practices are under punishment, and if he wants (homo)sexual enjoyment, why he harasses a heterosexual man instead of going to another man with similar (perverted) inclination?

11:48AM PST on Feb 19, 2011

Blessings goes out to victims and their families. Fight the good fight.

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