Writings of the general word's body

Monday, February 07, 2011

On the Murder of David Kato, the Ugandan Gay Rights Campaigner

Press release

We the undersigned condemn in the strongest possible terms the murder of Mr David Kato the Ugandan gay rights campaigner. We wish to state emphatically that homosexuality is neither a sin nor a social or cultural construct. It is a biological given. Homosexuals are human beings like everybody else. Scientific research has been helpful in clearing the fog of ignorance entrenched by some religious texts in regards to homosexuality. Our opinions of homosexuality must change for the better just as our opinion of slavery has changed even though it was endorsed by those same religious texts. All violence against gays and people deemed to be gay in Africa must cease forthwith.

We call on the government of Uganda to find and prosecute all those involved in the murder of Mr Kato, including the newspaper that called for the hanging of gays. We also call on African governments to learn from the South African example by expunging from their laws all provisions that criminalize homosexuality or treat homosexuals as unworthy of the same rights and entitlements as other citizens. African states must protect the rights of their citizens to freedom and dignity. Homosexuals must not be denied these rights.


1. Wale Adebanwi, PhD, University of California, US

2. Diran Adebayo, Writer, UK

3. Kayode Adeduntan, PhD, University of Ibadan, Nigeria

4. Biola Adegboyega, University of Calgary, Canada

5. Shola Adenekan, Editor, The New Black Magazine, UK

6. Pius Adesanmi, PhD, Carleton University, Canada

7. Akin Adesokan, PhD, Indiana University, US

8. Joe Agbro, Journalist, Nigeria

9. Anthony Akinola, PhD, Oxford, UK

10. Anengiyefa Alagoa, Writer, UK

11. Ellah Allfrey, Deputy Editor, Granta Magazine, UK

12. Alnoor Amlani, Writer, Kenya

13. Ike Anya, Public health doctor and writer, UK

14. Bode Asiyanbi, Writer, Lancaster University, UK

15. Sefi Atta, Writer, US

16. Lizzy Attree, PhD, University of East London, UK

17. Damola Awoyokun, Writer, UK

18. Doreen Baingana, Writer, Uganda

19. Igoni Barrett, Writer, Nigeria

20. Tom Burke, Bard College, US

21. Jude Dibia, Writer, Nigeria

22. Chris Dunton, PhD, National University of Lesotho, Lesotho

23. Ropo Ewenla, PhD, Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria

24. Chielozona Eze, PhD, Northeastern Illinois University, US

25. Aminatta Forna, Writer, UK

26. Ivor Hartmann, Writer, South Africa

27. Chris Ihidero, Writer, Lagos State University, Nigeria

28. Ikhide R. Ikheloa, Writer, US

29. Sean Jacobs, PhD, New School, US

30. Biodun Jeyifo, PhD, Harvard University, US

31. Brian Jones, Professor Emeritus, Zimbabwe

32. Martin Kiman, Writer, US

33. Lauri Kubuitsile, Writer, Botswana

34. Zakes Mda, PhD, Ohio University, US

35. Colin Meier, Writer, South Africa

36. Gayatri Menon, PhD, Franklin and Marshall College, US

37. Valentina A. Mmaka, Writer, Italy/South Africa

38. Jane Morris, Publisher, Zimbabwe

39. Mbonisi P. Ncube, Writer, South Africa

40. Iheoma Nwachukwu, Writer, Nigeria

41. Onyeka Nwelue, Writer and filmmaker, India/Nigeria

42. Nnedi Okorafor, PhD, Writer, Chicago State University, US

43. Ebenezer Obadare, PhD, University of Kansas, US

44. Juliane Okot Bitek, Writer, Canada

45. Tejumola Olaniyan, PhD, University of Wisconsin, US

46. Ngozichi Omekara, Trinidad and Tobago

47. Akin Omotosho, Actor and filmmaker, South Africa

48. Kole Omotosho, PhD, Africa Diaspora Research Group, South Africa

49. Samuel Sabo, Writer, UK

50. Ramzi Salti, PhD, Stanford University, US

51. Brett L. Shadle, PhD, Virginia Tech, US

52. Lola Shoneyin, Writer, Nigeria

53. Wole Soyinka, Nobel Laureate for Literature

54. Olufemi Taiwo, PhD, Seattle University, US

55. Kola Tubosun, Writer, Fulbright Scholar, United States

56. Uzor Maxim Uzoatu, Writer, Nigeria

57. Abdourahman A.Waberi, Writer, US /Djibouti

58. Binyavanga Wainaina, Writer, Kenya

59. Ronald Elly Wanda, Writer& Lecturer, Marcus Garvey Pan-Afrikan Institute, Uganda

60. Kristy Warren, PhD, University of Warwick, UK

French Version

lettre de pétition: Sur la Assassiner de David Kato, l'ougandaise des droits de Gay de campagne

Nous, soussignés, condamnons dans les termes les plus énergiques l'assassiner de M. David Kato de la campagne ougandaise des droits des homosexuels. Nous tenons à affirmer avec force que l'homosexualité n'est ni un péché, ni une construction sociale ou culturelle. Il est une donnée biologique. Les homosexuels sont des êtres humains comme tout le monde. La recherche scientifique a été utile dans l'élimination du brouillard de l'ignorance entretenue par certains textes religieux en ce qui concerne l'homosexualité. Nos opinions de l'homosexualité doit changer pour le mieux même que notre avis de l'esclavage a changé même s'il a été approuvé par ces mêmes textes religieux. Tous violence contre les gais et les personnes réputées être gay en Afrique doit cesser immédiatement.

Nous appelons le gouvernement de l'Ouganda à trouver et à poursuivre tous ceux qui sont impliqués dans la assassiner de M. Kato, y compris le journal qui a appelé à la pendaison des homosexuels. Nous appelons aussi les gouvernements africains à s'inspirer de l'exemple sud-africain par radiation de leur législation toutes les dispositions qui criminalisent l'homosexualité ou de traiter les homosexuels comme indigne des mêmes droits et avantages que les autres citoyens. Les États africains doivent protéger les droits de leurs citoyens à la liberté et la dignité. Les homosexuels ne doivent pas être privés de ces droits.

Portuguese Version

Carta de Petição: sobre o assassinato de David Kato, o Uganda Gay ativista de direitos

Nós, os abaixo assinados condenam nos termos mais fortes possíveis o assassinato do Sr. David Kato o activista dos direitos gays de Uganda. Queremos declarar enfaticamente que a homossexualidade não é pecado, nem uma construção social ou cultural. É um dado biológico. Os homossexuais são seres humanos como todos os outros. A investigação científica tem sido útil para limpar o nevoeiro da ignorância enraizada por alguns textos religiosos em relação à homossexualidade. Nossas opiniões sobre a homossexualidade deve mudar para melhor assim como a nossa opinião sobre a escravidão mudou mesmo foi aprovado por esses mesmos textos religiosos. Toda a violência contra homossexuais e pessoas consideradas gay na África deve cessar de imediato.

Apelamos ao governo de Uganda para encontrar e processar todos os envolvidos no assassinato do Sr. Kato, incluindo o jornal que pedia a suspensão dos gays. Apelamos também aos governos Africano de aprender com o exemplo Sul Africano por expurgando de suas leis todas as disposições que criminalizam a homossexualidade ou tratar os homossexuais como indignos de os mesmos direitos e os direitos dos outros cidadãos. Africano estados devem proteger os direitos dos seus cidadãos à liberdade e dignidade. Homossexuais não devem ser negados os seus direitos.

Swahili version

Mauaji ya David Kato - Mwanaharakati wa haki za wapenzi wa Jinsia moja nchini


Sisi tuliosaini hapo chini, tunashutumu vikali mauaji ya David Kato,

Mwanaharakati wa haki za wapenzi wa Jinsia moja nchini Uganda.

Tunasisitiza kuwa

mapenzi ya jinsia moja sio uovu wa aina yoyote, katika tamaduni zetu.

Hili ni jambo linalotokea kimaumbile na wapenzi wa jinsia moja ni binadamu tu

sawa na wengine. Utafiti wa sayansi umesaidia kuondoa kasumba hii mbovu

iliyowekwa na baadhi ya vitabu vya dini juu ya wapenzi wa jinsia moja.Lazima

tubadilishe maono yetu na mawazo tuliyonayo juu yao ili tuboreshe uhusiano


Lazima uhasama na chuki iliyopo dhidi ya wapenzi wa jinsia moja iangamizwe


Tunatoa wito kwa serikali ya Uganda kuwafungulia mashtaka wote waliohusika

katika mauaji ya David Kato pamoja na gazeti hilo lililotoa wito wa chuki na

mauaji ya wapenzi wa jinsia moja.

Pia tunatoa wito kwa mataifa mengine ya Afrika yajifunze kutoka kwa serikali ya

Afrika Kusini na kuondoa tamaduni zinazoakandamiza wapenzi wa jinsia moja na

kuwanyima haki zao za kibinadamu sawa na wananchi wengine. Mataifa ya Afrika

yanawajibu wa kulinda haki na uhuru wa raia wao. Na wapenzi wa jinsia moja pia

lazima wapewe haki hizi.


Writerdelic said...

I definitely agree that Homophobia is a terrible societal ill and the murder of David Kato is a most atrocious example of hatred and persecution of gays. Every human being deserves to be treated with dignity irregardless of beliefs or affiliation,and it is the state's duty to protect the rights of all its citizens. HOWEVER, the direct attack and belittling of religion expressed in this text is very unnecessary and only serves to cause provocation and friction. It reads as an attack by a certain cluster of beliefs against another cluster of beliefs hence it defeats the purpose of advocating for people to respect one another's beliefs and rights. It rather reads like one is staging a conflict of ideas (and one that cannot be won in this manner for you cannot reason with people by attacking a profound base such as religion) and instead of reasoning with people the old age issue of homosexuality vis a vis religion has simply been perpetuated on a most provocative front. For me the whole message was lost because of this one very glaring factor; I find no difference between this provocation against religion and a provocation against homosexuals, both of which are wrong and derogatory to progress on the matter. Why not simply concentrate on what we as people can universally agree on, that an atrocious act such as the killing is wrong, and that homosexuals are indeed human beings who have rights and must have their beliefs respected, just like everybody else?

Lauri said...

Because, Novuyo, the justification for these attacks rests firmly on interpretation of religious texts. Arguments from that perspective allow homophobes to relax into a self righteousness that, at least I feel, needs to be condemned.

I agree it is the state's mandate to protect all citizens' rights but there is this odd entanglement of state and religion in Africa that is very difficult to pull apart.

Writerdelic said...

But here is the thing; two contradictory ideologies have been brought to loggerheads; the matter has not been made a universal one, and hence narrows perspective to this idea of science and religion. The person who gives weight to science over religion is right, just as the person who gives weight to religion over science is equally right; it is everybody's right to choose what they believe. What is wrong, is to attack and persecute others for their beliefs, whether or not they clash with your own, as was done to David Kato; such intolerance is born of the idea that there can only be one and one way only and any other way is wrong wrong wrong; but there are many ways aren't there, and we must respect each other's freedom to choose our ways; tolerance, 'there is more than one way,I have no right to force upon others my way, each to his own way' . You cannot attack religious text without implicitly attacking the principles of religious foundation, and therein lies the provocation. The problem of state and religion is one that should be lobbied for without the need to say religion is wrong on the matter, because it implies that by legalising homosexuality the state would be saying religion is wrong on the matter, and it is not the state's mandate to give weight to one ideology over another (as you say it currently does to religion); the state is meant to function as a body that protects equally the rights of it citizens. The moment you say 'science is right religion is wrong state change laws' you are misrepresenting state's duty and inciting people to think the state should take sides on the matter, which it shouldn't. I think this is what people do not understand, this role of the state; and the state is hardly ever neutral on the matter is it? Is religion wrong or right on the matter, is science wrong or right on the matter, well that depends on the basis of one's beliefs doesn't it. I do not think you can address homophobia by attacking religion using science as a basis and hope anything positive can come out of it. Is it not more effective to lobby for tolerance of different belief systems, co-existence, respecting another's right to freedom of choice, understanding that we all live differently and that we need to respect our diversity (and all of this the state has a mandate to promote) without bringing in one form of ideology as being superior to another? Because the debate and conflict of ideologies never ends, it really never does, the moment you say to people 'this ideology is wrong based on that ideology' you are simply inciting a never ending conflict.

Unknown said...

The Bible also tells us that after Noah cursed his son after seeing him naked, the son became the father of all black people and they were a cursed nation. Does that mean that being black is a sin against God? Does that mean that, like homophobia, racism is acceptable, simply because the bible says so? The bible may say that two men shall not lie together, but it also says that God will judge.

Some people are born gay - get over it.

Anengiyefa said...

@Writerdelic, the state should protect the right of every person to hold any beliefs that they choose to hold. It is wrong for the state to act in favour of the religious beliefs of some only. The state will not be saying religion is wrong, because even in those parts of the world where homosexuality has been decriminalised there are significant numbers among the population who still hold religious beliefs that are not favourable to homosexuality.

Its not just about science versus religion. Its about the upholding of rights that are fundamental and universal to all humans, in this case, the right to the pursuit of happiness. The fact that there are those who detest same-sex love and believe that it is wrong, is not a valid reason for the homosexual members of any society to be deprived of the right to pursue happiness insofar as the rights of others are not infringed.

It is this crucial fact that has been recognised in the more advanced societies, and increasingly in the less advanced ones such as Brazil and India. Decriminalising homosexuality is not tantamount to a declaration that religious doctrine is wrong, since those who hold those beliefs are free to continue to do so. Laws and policy in a secular state with a secular constitution should not be guided by religious doctrine, but instead by rationality and the respect for universal rights and freedoms, which by the way, includes the right of citizens to hold whichever religious beliefs they wishh to hold.

Writerdelic said...

That is what I have been trying to say Anengifeya, you have hit the nail on the head, you have put it better than I have, in which case we are in total agreement.