The murder of David Kato, the Ugandan human rights advocate, has brought widespread international condemnation – including from the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Tragically, David Kato’s murder has not been universally condemned in his own country, and it is regrettably clear that the fires of Ugandan homophobia are being stoked from the pulpit.
On November 20, 2009 we issued a statement expressing deep concern about possible legislation in some African states which appeared to provide a serious threat to the basic civil rights and safety of homosexual people. That statement read:
“The Co-Presiding Archbishops of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia together with the Standing Committee of General Synod have increasing concerns about proposed legislation in some African states which consolidates previous legislation relating to homosexuality and introduces severely punitive and discriminatory new measures.
The Bishops of this church have participated in Lambeth Conferences where we committed ourselves to speak out against capital punishment (Lambeth 1988 33:3b), and to condemn the irrational fear of homosexuals (Lambeth 1988 1:10d).
“As Archbishops in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia we defend and need to draw attention to the civil liberties and rights of all those who may be seriously affected by this legislation.
“Human dignity and human rights are crucial in Aotearoa New Zealand as well as any other part of the world. We invite our churches to pray for those countries where this legislation will have such a significant impact.”
In the face of David Kato’s murder, we now commend to you the following remarks by the US Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton:
“We are profoundly saddened by the loss of Ugandan human rights defender David Kato, who was brutally murdered in his home near Kampala yesterday. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends, and colleagues. We urge Ugandan authorities to quickly and thoroughly investigate and prosecute those responsible for this heinous act.
His efforts resulted in groundbreaking recognition for Uganda’s LGBT community, including the Uganda Human Rights Commission’s October 2010 statement on the unconstitutionality of Uganda’s draft “anti-homosexuality bill” and the Ugandan High Court’s January 3 ruling safeguarding all Ugandans’ right to privacy and the preservation of human dignity.
His tragic death underscores how critical it is that both the government and the people of Uganda, along with the international community, speak out against the discrimination, harassment, and intimidation of Uganda’s LGBT community, and work together to ensure that all individuals are accorded the same rights and dignity to which each and every person is entitled.
This crime is a reminder of the heroic generosity of the people who advocate for and defend human rights on behalf of the rest of us — and the sacrifices they make. And as we reflect on his life, it is also an occasion to reaffirm that human rights apply to everyone, no exceptions.
Our ambassadors and diplomats around the world will continue to advance a comprehensive human rights policy, and to stand with those who, with their courage, make the world a more just place where every person can live up to his or her God-given potential. We honor David’s legacy by continuing the important work to which he devoted his life.”
++David ++Winston ++Brown
Archbishop David Moxon, Senior Bishop of the New Zealand dioceses
Archbishop Winston Halapua, Bishop of Polynesia
Archbishop Brown Turei, Pihopa o Aotearoa