Religious leaders deplore intolerance and hatred in wake of David Kato's death

Published: February 3, 2011

Over 70 religious representatives and 25 organizations have issued a statement in response to the violent death of David Kato in Uganda, calling on religious leaders "to speak, act and urge their faithful to reach out in compassion towards those who are marginalized for any reason and to resist all attempts to promote intolerance and hatred."

David Kato was beaten to death in his home in Kampala on Wednesday, 26 January. The official investigation into Kato’s death is ongoing, with police in Uganda saying the motive was robbery. His death, however, has highlighted the discrimination and violence faced by sexual minorities in Uganda and elsewhere, which some consider is fueled by the statements and actions of some religious leaders.

Kato was a leading human rights activist in Uganda, who had recently won a court case against a Uganda newspaper for publishing his photo, with his name and address, along with those of other gay people, with the caption, "Hang Them." In Uganda, homosexuality is illegal and an anti-homosexuality bill introduced last year called for imposing life imprisonment for homosexual activity and even the death penalty in some cases.

Peter Prove, Executive Director of the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance (EAA), noted that from the experience of the EAA’s HIV and AIDS campaign, discrimination against people on the margins of society, such as men who have sex with men, drug users and sex workers, have fueled the HIV pandemic because it discourages individuals from receiving the information and services for prevention and treatment that they need.

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