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White House issues statement honoring murdered Ugandan gay rights activist

Thursday, January 27, 2011
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David Kato

WASHINGTON — The White House today issued the following statement by President Barack Obama regarding the murder of Ugandan gay rights activist David Kato:

“I am deeply saddened to learn of the murder of David Kato. In Uganda, David showed tremendous courage in speaking out against hate. He was a powerful advocate for fairness and freedom. The United States mourns his murder, and we recommit ourselves to David’s work.

“At home and around the world, LGBT persons continue to be subjected to unconscionable bullying, discrimination, and hate. In the weeks preceding David Kato’s murder in Uganda, five members of the LGBT community in Honduras were also murdered. It is essential that the Governments of Uganda and Honduras investigate these killings and hold the perpetrators accountable.

“LGBT rights are not special rights; they are human rights. My Administration will continue to strongly support human rights and assistance work on behalf of LGBT persons abroad. We do this because we recognize the threat faced by leaders like David Kato, and we share their commitment to advancing freedom, fairness, and equality for all.”

Kato was found Wednesday having been beaten in the skull with a hammer a his home. Last year, he was featured in the Ugandan tabloid Rolling Stone, which featured names and photos of gay men under the headline “HANG THEM!”

Homosexulaity in Uganda is a criminal offense punishable in some cases by life imprisonment.

Lawmaker David Bahati has sponsored legislation that would introduce some of the toughest anti-gay punishments in the world, with a minimum life sentence for anyone convicted of having gay sex, and a mandatory death penalty if they were HIV-positive.

The bill, commonly referred to as the “Kill the Gays” bill, would also ban the “promotion of homosexuality,” making it a crime to advocate on behalf of gay rights.

Kato and his group, Sexual Minorities Uganda, had campaigned against the bill.

Earlier on Thursday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a statement, “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.”

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