Markus Löning, Federal Government Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid, issued the following statement today (27 January) in Berlin concerning the death of human rights activist David Kato in Uganda:
“I was horrified by the news of David Kato’s brutal murder. David Kato campaigned for the human rights of sexual minorities in a highly homophobic society.
Notwithstanding public vilification and discrimination, and in the face of a hate campaign, he lobbied strongly against the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which sought to impose the death penalty for certain homosexual acts. Mr Kato and other gay activists had been publicly threatened by a Ugandan newspaper that published their pictures under a headline reading “Hang them!” He successfully sued the newspaper in court. I pay tribute to his courageous personal commitment to human rights.
The Ugandan Government must provide protection and security for human rights activists. I call on President Museveni to take a clear public stance condemning the incitement of hatred against sexual minorities.
In this context I expressly also call on the churches and religious groups to take an active stance to counter such cheap propaganda against minorities.”
David Kato died on 26 January following serious injuries to his head. The police are searching for the killer. In his capacity as advocacy officer for Sexual Minorities Uganda, Kato was a leading figure in the battle against the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. This was introduced in 2009 by an ultra-conservative backbencher from the governing National Resistance Movement, with the aim of tightening up the existing anti-homosexual legislation – so far without success, thanks to international pressure.
Uganda is not the only African state that has a difficult relationship with homosexuality – in 38 countries homosexuality is a crime.