Human rights group calls for impartial investigation on murder of Ugandan gay rights activist

KAMPALA, UGANDA: Human Rights Watch on Thursday called for an urgent and impartial investigation on the murder of David Kato, a prominent gay rights activist.

Kato dedicated his life to fighting for the rights of lesbians, gays, bisexual, and transgender persons (LGBT) in Uganda. He was killed on Wednesday by an unknown assailant in his Mukono residence. He regularly faced threats and risks to his personal safety.

"David Kato's death is a tragic loss to the human rights community," said Maria Burnett, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. "David had faced the increased threats to Ugandan LGBT people bravely and will be sorely missed."

Authorities informed that a man was seen entering Kato's home at about 1 p.m. local time. The LGBT activist was hit twice in the head with a piece of metal and died on his way to hospital. The crime was condemned worldwide.

"David Kato was a man that fought for the rights of people to live freely regardless of their sexual orientation in Uganda," said Jerzy Buzek, President of the European Parliament. "I call for the perpetrators of this crime to be brought to justice He was a remarkable human rights defender."

The attacker left the scene in a vehicle but police managed to obtain the registration number of the vehicle. Human Rights Watch urged the Ugandan government to ensure safety for local members of the LGBT community against all threats or hate speech.

Homosexuality is already illegal in Uganda and the parliament is analyzing the Anti-Homosexuality Bill that proposes to criminalize all homosexuality and make it punishable by a fine and life imprisonment.

Kato had been leading the fight against the Anti-Homosexuality Bill. If approved, repeating offenders and those who are HIV positive would be subject to the death penalty.

In addition, anyone with knowledge of someone who is or might be a homosexual would have to report that person to the police within 24 hours. The proposed legislation has been condemned worldwide.

"I regret that Uganda is a country where homosexuality is still considered a criminal act. Sexual orientation is a matter falling within the remit of the individual right to privacy in the framework of universal human rights and fundamental freedoms," added Buzek.


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