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Vigil to Commemorate Slain Ugandan Activist: Calls for End to Homophobic Religious Hate

What: Candlelight vigil and silent procession

When: February 3, 2011, 4:00 pm at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza; 5:00 pm at Uganda House

Where: Dag Hammarskjold Plaza at the corner of 2nd Avenue and 47th Street, NY, NY. Uganda House at 336 East 45th Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues, NY, NY.

WHO: The keynote speech will be delivered by Val Kalende, Board Chair of Freedom and Roam Uganda, an LBT organization in Uganda.

Additional speakers include:
- Cary Alan Johnson (International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission)
- Reverend Kapya Kaoma (Public Research Associates)
- Amanda Lugg (African Services Committee)
- Kagendo Murungi (Wapinduzi Productions)
- Pastor Joseph Tolton (Global Justice Initiative)
- Dr. Cheikh Traore
- Invited guests include United States and New York City government officials.
- Speaker list in formation.

(New York, February 1, 2011) - US religious leaders have a moral responsibility to condemn and combat the murderous spread of homophobic hate in Uganda, said a coalition of thirty-five human rights organizations announcing a vigil in memory of slain Ugandan human rights activist David Kato. The candlelight vigil will be held at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza and followed by a silent procession to Uganda House, the Ugandan mission to the United Nations, on February 3 at 4 pm. (Co-sponsors are listed below.)

Kato, a prominent leader of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) movement in Uganda, was found murdered in his Kampala home on January 26. His photograph had been published in a Ugandan tabloid that called for hanging gay people; he had recently led a successful lawsuit forcing the publication to desist. The groups also voiced concern that homophobia may prevent Ugandan authorities from conducting a full and fair investigation of Kato's murder.

"David Kato was a hero not just to LGBT Ugandans, but to all Ugandans, and to all supporters of human rights," said Frank Mugisha, Kato's colleague in Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), an LGBT rights organization in Uganda. "As we mourn him, we must also ensure that his killers are brought to justice and that no LGBT Ugandan ever faces the same deadly violence again."

Kato was a leading opponent of the "Anti-Homosexuality Bill" introduced in 2009 by MP David Bahati - proposed legislation that would criminalize any advocacy or support for LGBT people, as well as punish homosexual conduct with the death penalty under certain circumstances. The bill was promoted by US evangelical Christian leaders including Scott Lively, Don Schmierer, and Caleb Lee Brundidge, who met with Ugandan parliamentarians and advocated for increased strictures against homosexuality while preaching in Uganda in early 2009.

"In our grief and anger reacting to David's murder, we draw a line in the sand," said Cary Alan Johnson, Executive Director of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC). "We will be standing outside the United Nations and Uganda's embassy to demand an end to this unspeakable violence and homophobia in Uganda and around the world."

US evangelical leaders including the influential minister Rick Warren have long taken a close interest in Ugandan affairs and have embraced and supported Ugandan Christian ministers who promote homophobia. Warren himself - who delivered the invocation at President Barack Obama's inauguration - has falsely compared homosexuality to pedophilia.

"David Kato's murder shows that lies have consequences," said Rev. Kapya Kaoma, the director of Public Research Associate's Project on Religion and Sexuality. "Those U.S conservatives who have lit the brushfire of homophobia in Africa now have to face their guilt. They must speak out against the violence that now threatens all gay Ugandans."

An additional vigil mourning David Kato - organized by IGLHRC, AIDS Rights Alliance for Southern Africa (ARASA), and Gender Dynamix - will be held in Cape Town, South Africa the same day at 5:00 pm local time at 6 Spin Street, Cape Town (opposite Church Square).

"David will be greatly missed and it is going to be extremely difficult to replace his leadership," said Val Kalende, Board Chair of Freedom and Roam Uganda, a lesbian, bisexual, and transgender organization in Uganda. "But we cannot afford to remain silent as the government of Uganda continues to show its unwillingness to protect the fundamental rights of LGBT citizens. There is no better time than this for our government to drop the Anti-Homosexuality Bill and to stop the religious-sponsored homophobia that might have caused David's death and might lead to the loss of many others."

Over thirty-five organizations are sponsoring this event including: ACT UP/New York, African Services Committee, American Jewish World Service, Amnesty International, amfAR The Foundation for AIDS Research, ARC International, Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, Center for Constitutional Rights, Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies, Center for Women's Global Leadership, Council for Global Equality, Freedom and Roam Uganda, Gay By God, The Gay Men's Health Crisis, Global Forum on MSM & HIV, Global Justice Ministry Health GAP (Global Access Project), House Of Rainbow Fellowship, Human Rights Campaign, International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, Immigration Equality, The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center, LGBT Rights Program at Human Rights Watch, National Black Justice Coalition, The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, The New York City Anti-Violence Project, None on Record, Political Research Associates, The Queer African Youth Networking Center, Queers for Economic Justice, Sexual Minorities Uganda, Stonewall Community Foundation, St. Paul's Foundation For International Reconciliation, Wapinduzi Productions


The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) is a leading human rights organization solely devoted to improving the rights of people around the world who are targeted for imprisonment, abuse or death because of their sexuality, gender identity or HIV/AIDS status. IGLHRC addresses human rights violations by partnering with and supporting activists in countries around the world, monitoring and documenting human rights abuses, engaging offending governments, and educating international human rights officials. A non-profit, non-governmental organization, IGLHRC is based in New York, with offices in Cape Town and Buenos Aires. Visit for more information

The Mission of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission is to secure the full enjoyment of human rights of all people and communities subject to discrimination or abuse on the basis of sexual orientation or expression, gender identity or expression and/or HIV status.

Media Contacts

Jessica Stern
Director of Programs
+1 212-430-6014;

Boris Dittrich
Acting Director - Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Program
Human Rights Watch
+ 1 212-216-1280;

Kapya Kaoma
Project Director
Political Research Associates
+1 617-666-5300;

Scott Long
Senior Fellow
Center for Gender and Sexuality Law, Columbia University School of Law
+1 212-854-7487;



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