BONELA Condemns State-Sanctioned Murder of Ugandan Gay Rights Activist

31 January 2011

The Botswana Network on Ethics, Law and HIV/AIDS (BONELA) condemns the brutal murder of Ugandan gay rights activist David Kato late last week. The murder followed the publishing of Kato’s name on a list of the so called “nations top homosexuals”.

Whilst it is unclear whether the murder was due to his activism,  or the appearance of his name on the list, BONELA is appalled at the level of discrimination exhibited by the tabloid paper that published the list of “top 100 homosexuals” with their photos, addresses and a banner with the words “Hang Them.”

Last year, the Ugandan parliament proposed new laws which would see those who test positive for HIV, facing the death penalty. In addition, those convicted of having gay sex would be sentenced to life in prison, while anyone found guilty of engaging in homosexual relations on more than one occasion would be executed.

Although Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni has not publicly stated his support for the bill, homosexuality is already illegal in Uganda under laws passed in the colonial era, but the new legislation is intended to provide prosecutors with more power.

Director of BONELA Uyapo Ndadi, said he was not surprised that the human rights situation in Uganda had deteriorated to that level. He said: “the silence of the leadership sanctioned this murder last year when they failed to speak against the proposed law by parliament that would institutionalize discrimination against Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgendered (LGBT) individuals. It is the hope of BONELA that this proposed bill will not see the light of day and result in more deaths.”

In addition, BONELA’s Prevention and Research Initiative for Sexual Minorities (PRISM) Coordinator Felistus Motimedi said: “It is the hope of BONELA that this incident is a lesson for Botswana, a country that has largely been regarded internationally as democratic to repeal the section in the Penal Code that fuels stigma and discrimination against LGBT. “

Motimedi also said, “there are more than 60 LGBTI in Gaborone alone and it is time the Government of Botswana decriminalizes same sex relationships as articulated in the Penal Code to ensure universal access of prevention and support services through targeted HIV and other Sexually transmitted Diseases interventions.”

BONELA is also baffled that the Rolling Stone tabloid allowed itself to be used in such an unethical manner in publishing the names of those identifying as homosexuals and called for their death. This is a criminal act and the publication ought to be brought before the highest courts for this crime against humanity, tantamount to genocide.