Now David is gone. The two other plaintiffs have also been targeted because of this case and they remain in grave danger. It was therefore appropriate that at the New York Vigil the speakers shared their memories of the David they knew as well as their thoughts on what can and must be done to prevent this tragedy from happening again.
It was an impressive array of speakers, including local politicians as well as friends and associates of David. Despite the bone-chilling cold of the day, it attracted several hundred impassioned attendees who listened attentively. After the speakers were finished, the crowd, bearing candles, walked several blocks to Uganda House, the site of Uganda's mission to the UN. Once there, we laid flowers in the doorway in front of a large photo of David bearing the words, "DEMAND JUSTICE - DAVID KATO."
A letter addressed to H.E. Ambassador Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, and signed by twenty-one human rights and HIV/AIDS organizations, was also read to the crowd before being delivered to the mission. It demanded "that the Ugandan government immediately denounce David’s murder and thoroughly and impartially investigate this heinous crime. It is also imperative that the Ugandan government publicly and immediately commits itself to protecting the safety of all LGBT Ugandans... It is also urgent and long overdue that the Ugandan government express its clear opposition to the pending 'Anti-Homosexuality Bill,' condemn all forms of discrimination and incitement to violence directed at anyone because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and speak out against the climate of hatred generated by this proposed law."
So, going forward, what should we do to honor David's memory? Here, via IGLHRC, is the press release from his organization SMUG (Sexual Minorities Uganda) which details their suggestions for how we can best respond to this terrible crime. They recommend we:
- Send letters urging the Government of Uganda (contact information below) to take the following steps:
- Publicly condemn David's murder;
- Carry out a full and fair investigation into David's murder;
- Prosecute the perpetrator(s) to the fullest extent of the law;
- Investigate David's hacked email account in the days preceding his death;
- Assume that, until proven otherwise, David's death was motivated by homophobia and not routine or arbitrary violence;
- Communicate frequently with LGBT leaders throughout the investigation into David's murder;
- Ensure that members of Uganda's LGBT community have adequate protection from violence;
- Take prompt action against all threats or hate speech likely to incite violence, discrimination or hostility toward LGBT Ugandans;
- Eliminate any possibility of consideration or passage of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.
- Contact your own governmental authorities and urge them to communicate these concerns to the Ugandan authorities in direct and private advocacy.
- Continue to expose and denounce U.S. conservative evangelicals spreading homophobia in Uganda.
- Organize respectful and non-violent vigils at the Ugandan embassy or consulate in your country.
Here, for those of you who could not be with us, is a brief video synopsis of the Vigil:
For those of you who have the time to watch, I am also pleased to be able to bring you all seven speakers, presented unedited:
Rev. Pat Baumgarden, Pastor, Metropolitan Community Church of NY
Cary Alan Johnson, Executive Director, International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission
Val Kalende, Board Chair, Freedom and Roam, Uganda
Daniel Dromm, NY City Councilman
Christine Quinn, NY City Council Speaker
Dr. Cheikh Traore, Senior Advisor, UN Development Program
Rev. Kapya Kaoma, Political Research Associates