The Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA) and the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC) say they are shocked and saddned by the murder of Ugandan gay activist David Kato.
Kato was murdered in Kampala, Uganda by suspected ant-gay individuals but the police in that country say he was probably a victim of ordinary robberry.
But in a joint statement signed by Ian Swartz – Sexual Diversity Coordinator, OSISA and Priti Patel – Deputy Director, SALC, the organisations say that the murder of David serves to increase the already existing threat of violence against the LGBTI community throughout the region.
The organisations state in am email statement to the Watchdog that Kato was a courageous man, who devoted his life to campaigning for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people (LGBTI) in Uganda and across the African continent.
The Statement further explains that recently David was targeted by the Rolling Stone newspaper, which published his details and a photograph – and called for David and other members of the LGBTI community to be hung.
Despite the danger, David and his organisation – Sexual Minorities of Uganda (SMUG) – successfully sued the publication, giving supporters of LGBTI rights in Uganda and across the globe something to celebrate. Tragically, they are now mourning his death.
David’s murder takes place in the context of entrenched homophobia, not only in Uganda but across Africa. In southern Africa, we have seen an increase in homophobic attacks, threats, intimidation, raids by police and arbitrary arrests targeting LGBTI activists and their supporters.
In Malawi, the Centre for the Development of People was forced to relocate its offices after severe police harassment. In Zimbabwe, employees of the GALZ – a LGBT organisation – were arrested and subjected to police violence after an illegal raid on the organisation’s offices. Finally, in Zambia, the chairperson of the board of an LGBTI organisation was forced to go into hiding after she received death threats and was threatened with arrest by the local police.
“We call on the authorities in Uganda to immediately condemn this vicious murder and all homophobic attacks, to launch an independent and credible investigation into the murder, to stop inciting homophobia and to provide protection for all LGBTI activists.
“Furrthermore, ending violence against the LGBTI community is critical to ensuring the fulfilment of human rights for all people throughout Africa. We, therefore, call on all African leaders to take the necessary action to stop violence against the LGBTI community,” read the statement.