MSMGF Condemns Vicious Murder of David Kato
Violent death of human rights defender a call to action against global epidemic of homophobia
(Oakland, January 27, 2011) - The Global Forum on Men
Who Have Sex with Men and HIV (MSMGF) is shocked and deeply saddened by the sudden loss of David Kato, an intrepid and
outspoken activist who fought tirelessly for the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people
in Uganda. David's life and work against the twin plagues of homophobia and HIV were cut short by a brutal act of
violence, a tragedy that will linger in the hearts of his colleagues in the global HIV community for years to
come. Just as we demand that the local authorities carry out a prompt and thorough investigation into
David's murder, it is incumbent upon all of us to examine and interrogate the forces that produce
these atrocities around the world on a daily basis.
David's death followed a series of troubling events that unfolded in Uganda in the months before his murder.
Rolling Stone, a start-up tabloid, tried to build a following by publishing the names, photographs and addresses of what it
called "Uganda's Top Homos," including David's, under the headline "Hang Them." Following the publication, David received
a number death threats targeting him and other people identified as homosexual. All of this took place in the context
of Uganda's infamous "Anti-Homosexuality Bill," calling for sentences of life in prison and possible execution for
those who would engage in same-gender sexual activity.
The recent events in Uganda are horrifying, but they are not isolated. They are symptoms of
a sweeping global phenomenon of ignorance and homophobia that hits LGBT people from all sides. Homophobic
discrimination fans the flames of HIV by restricting access for men who have sex with men (MSM) and
transgender people to life-saving education, support and health services, leaving these
communities particularly vulnerable to the virus. But when MSM and transgender people
bravely stand up and fight for their rights to health and well-being, they are
often confronted with hostility and violence from their own families, neighbors and governments.
Homophobia is not a benign disposition that can be left unchallenged without consequence. It is an insidious
and powerful force that has entrenched itself in all corners of our world, evident from the 250 LGBT people reported murdered in
Brazil last year alone to the current election in Zambia where politicians accuse opponents of supporting gay rights in order
to damage their reputations.
"David Kato's death happens against a backdrop of daily reports of brutal torture and assassination-style murders of LGBT people
worldwide" said MSMGF Executive Officer, Dr. George Ayala. "HIV and human rights violations continue to elude us because we are
also waging the bigger battles against homophobia, bigotry and ignorance. LGBT people are under siege."
The MSMGF calls on all stakeholders in the global HIV response - including funders, implementers, governments, civil society,
family and friends - to take seriously the role that homophobia plays in both HIV epidemics and widespread human rights
violations around the world; to actively denounce incidents of homophobia everywhere they occur; to reject homophobic
approaches in national and international HIV programming; to urgently scale-up integration of human rights and HIV
services; and to robustly fund these efforts as a vital priority in the HIV response.
"It is important that people realize that you do not have to have a certain pedigree or background to make an impact," said Krista
Lauer, MSMGF Policy Associate. "You do not have to be a lawyer, or a doctor, or a citizen of any particular country, or a member
of the LGBT community to share the burden of this outrageous injustice. You must simply believe in the universality of human
rights and be willing to stand up for them."
The Global Forum on MSM and HIV (MSMGF) is an expanding network of AIDS organizations, MSM networks, and advocates
committed to ensuring robust coverage of and equitable access to effective HIV prevention, care, treatment, and support services
tailored to the needs of gay men and other MSM. Guided by a Steering Committee of 20 members from 18 countries situated mainly
in the Global South, and with administrative and fiscal support from AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA), the MSMGF works to
promote MSM health and human rights worldwide through advocacy, information exchange, knowledge production,
networking, and capacity building.
Additional statements on the death of David Kato include:
Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG):
Human Rights Watch:
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton:
Jack Beck | Communications Associate
The Global Forum on MSM & HIV (MSMGF)
436 14th Street, Suite 1500
Oakland, CA 94612