amfAR Condemns Murder of Ugandan Human Rights Activist David Kato, Calls for Independent Investigation
For Immediate Release
Cub Barrett, Program Communications Manager
NEW YORK, January 28, 2011—amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, on Friday condemned the murder of David Kato, an activist in Uganda who championed human rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people, men who have sex with men (MSM), and people living with HIV/AIDS in the face of hostility and danger in his home country.
Additionally, amfAR called for an independent investigation into the circumstances of Kato’s murder. According to Ugandan police reports, Kato was attacked in his home on Wednesday and died on the way to the hospital. Despite a strong and very public campaign against gays in Uganda—fueled by the threat of anti-gay laws and, recently, by a publication urging citizens to kill known gays—a police spokeswoman said the murder was not being treated as a hate crime.
Kato, the advocacy officer for Sexual Minorities in Uganda (SMUG), was an amfAR grantee, having received support through the Foundation’s MSM Initiative, which is designed to help grassroots organizations around the world combat homophobia and stigma while conducting HIV/AIDS education and outreach in local communities. Through his advocacy role on behalf of SMUG, Kato was a vocal advocate for LGBT rights and was constantly threatened because of his sexuality and the nature of his work.
“I’m devastated that we’ve lost such a champion for LGBT rights and the rights of those vulnerable to or living with HIV/AIDS,” said Kent Klindera, director of amfAR’s MSM Initiative. “David Kato understood the complexities of the HIV epidemic among MSM and worked with us to help advocate for the HIV-related needs of MSM in Uganda, even as he was targeted by hate groups. It is our hope that the Ugandan authorities will support an independent investigation that will bring those responsible to justice.”
In a blog post on GRASSROOTS: The MSM Initiative blog, Klindera shared his memories of working with Kato
amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, is one of the world’s leading nonprofit organizations dedicated to the support of AIDS research, HIV prevention, treatment education, and the advocacy of sound AIDS-related public policy. Since 1985, amfAR has invested nearly $325 million in its programs and has awarded grants to more than 2,000 research teams worldwide.