Amnesty International has called on the Ugandan authorities to ensure a credible investigation into the death of a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) rights activist who successfully sued a national newspaper which named him as being homosexual.
David Kato, the advocacy officer for the organization Sexual Minorities Uganda, died on his way to 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. The Ugandan government must immediately ensure a credible and impartial investigation into his murder,” said Michelle Kagari, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Africa.
“It is deeply worrying that the Ugandan government has been so conspicuously silent about discriminatory rhetoric against LGBT people in Uganda. 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 been calling for the 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 LGBT.
On 2 October 2010, Rolling Stone, a weekly tabloid paper launched last year by university graduates, published what it labelled “100 Pictures Of Uganda’s Top Homos”. Another article had the headline “hang them” above a list of names and photos.
On 3 January a High Court judge ruled against the 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 incidents of 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 along with a number of other civil society organizations has been at the forefront of advocating against the Anti-Homosexuality Bill published on 25 September 2009.
If it becomes law The Bill would violate international human rights law and lead to further human rights violations.