Today, the AIDS Coalition To Unleash Power in Philadelphia (ACT UP Philadelphia) is standing in solidarity with Sexual Minorities of Uganda (SMUG) and concerned civil society in Uganda and around the world in condemning the brutal murder of gay rights activist David Kato in his home on Wednesday, the 26th of January 2011. ACT UP Philadelphia sent letters to President Yoweri Museveni, Inspector General of Police Major Kale Kayihura, and Minister of Justice Hon. Makubuya Kiddu demanding the Government of Uganda and Police fully investigate David’s murder and confront current homophobia.
In the past year, ACT UP Philadelphia has worked with SMUG and other LGBTI, HIV/AIDS, and human rights activists in Uganda, the United States and around the world to fight against the Anti-Homosexuality Bill introduced in Ugandan parliament. This bill included the death penalty for "repeat homosexual offenders" and HIV+ persons found to be committing "homosexual acts." The repressive and violent nature of that bill not only put the lives of LGBTI Ugandans in jeopardy, it also greatly hampers the successes of HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment programs. The hostile political and religious environment initiated with that bill has contributed to an atmosphere of great fear and stigma for Ugandans who engage in same-sex relationships (including, but not exclusively, those who openly identify with the LGBTI community in Uganda). Furthermore, research in developed and developing countries has shown that such punitive laws actively undermine efforts to provide for the essential needs of these communities.
Ugandans have seen horrendous conflicts in the history of their remarkable country and within neighboring countries in recent years; conflicts that were fostered by political and religious leaders inciting social/ethnic divisions. “We stand with all fair and just-minded Ugandans in an outcry that LGBTI Ugandans will not become the next scapegoats. We demand that the Government of Uganda and the Police take swift and strong action to curb the growing homophobic climate in Kampala and around the country,” said ACT UP Philadelphia member Antonio Davis. In the letters, ACT UP Philadelphia amplified the calls led by SMUG in demanding that the Government of Uganda and the Police take the following specific actions:
1) Publicly and repeatedly condemn David’s murder;
2) Carry out a full and fair investigation into David’s murder with an assumption, until proved
otherwise, that David’s murder was motivated by homophobia and not routine or arbitrary
3) Investigate David’s hacked email account in the days preceding his death;
4) Prosecute the perpetrator(s) to the fullest extent of the law;
5) Communicate frequently with LGBT leaders throughout the investigation of David’s murder;
6) Ensure that members of Uganda’s LGBT community have adequate protection from violence;
7) Take prompt action against all threats or hate speech likely to incite violence, discrimination
or hostility toward LGBT Ugandans;
8) Eliminate any possibility of consideration or passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.