Thousands of LGBT Advocates Pause to Grieve the Death of David Kato

The National Religious Leadership Roundtable of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

For Immediate Release
February 4, 2011
Media Contact: Pedro Julio Serrano 787-602-5954

Thousands of LGBT Advocates Pause to Grieve the Death of David Kato

In the wake of the brutal murder of David Kato, gay advocate in Uganda, thousands of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender leaders attending the Creating Change conference in Minneapolis, February 2-6, paused to remember his life and vowed to work even harder to tell our stories and move public opinion to accept LGBT people in all countries.

At a memorial vigil on Friday night, February 4, LGBT faith leaders and advocates from across the country and the world grieved the loss of their brother, David. 

"No form of intimidation will stop our cause," said Mr. Frank Mugisha, executive director of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG). "The life and death of David will be honored as we struggle for justice and equality and win the hearts of people around the world because we are your sons and daughters, brothers and sisters.  David is gone but the struggle will be won. David wanted to see a Uganda where all people will be treated equally. It is our turn to pick up the mantle and carry on."

"Faith leaders have been working for the last year to expose the efforts of some American Christian conservatives to spread anti-LGBT attitudes to Africa, and Uganda in particular," said Dr. Sylvia Rhue of the National Black Justice Coalition.  "So-called ‘ex-gay’ ministries have failed so dismally in the United States that they are now exporting their damaging beliefs.  They will continue to fail because diversity in sexual orientation and gender identity is inherent to humankind."

"Jesus taught us that we must love God and love our neighbor as ourselves.  But some of our Christian brothers and sisters in the United States and around the world turn Jesus’ ministry on its head," said the Rev. Rebecca Voelkel, faith work director for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. "They preach judgment, condemnation and rejection and use fear to raise money and stoke violence.  Where is the love?  The murder of David Kato must be investigated and those responsible need to be brought to justice.  But all of us–Ugandans, Americans and all our neighbors around the world–need to build societies in which love, respect and human dignity rule the day, no matter what faith tradition or culture we come from."
"David Kato was a member of the Anglican Church of Uganda. Sadly, most Ugandan Anglican leaders preach messages of rejection and condemnation under the guise of religion," said the Rev. David Norgard, president of Integrity USA.  "As members of the Episcopal Church, we have a long standing relationship with our LGBT brothers and sisters in Uganda as members of the global Anglican Communion and must face the fact that the Church has been a big part of the problem.  It is long overdue for Christians, and good people of all faiths, to be the solution: to stop this violence, to sow love where hatred now festers and to respect the dignity of every human being."

"As African Americans and Baptist/United Church of Christ clergy, we minister to straight, same-gender loving and transgender people in the District of Columbia. We are devastated by the loss of David Kato, a powerful advocate for justice in Uganda," said the Revs. Dennis and Christine Wiley.  "We have seen how the strategy of fear mongering is being used to drive a wedge within the African American community despite a long tradition of accommodated differences in gender identity and love partnerships among our own.  Today, some religious leaders make a living on the backs of gay and transgender people through fear and misinformation.  They preach a message of exclusion rather than a gospel of love.  In Uganda, this led to a murder and ongoing persecution.  It is time to stop."

"My prayers go out to the people of Uganda who lost a courageous soul to brutality.  As a Bishop and pastor to same gender loving and transgender African American Christians in the United States, I have seen firsthand how true faith saves lives and how hate in the guise of religion destroys people and communities," said Bishop Tonya Rawls of Unity Fellowship Church Movement.  "Africans and African Americans know firsthand how Scripture has been used to justify slavery, colonialism and racism around the globe.  Using Scripture to condemn people for their sexual orientation and gender identity is just as wrong.  God’s love always trumps hate." 

"My heart aches for David Kato’s family and the good people of Uganda who have lost a hero and prophetic voice for justice," said Dr. Sharon Groves, interim director of religion and faith for the Human Rights Campaign.  "I hold my faith dear; it is faith that can heal and helps us understand that God is love.  So, I cannot sit idly by while a few radical preachers from the USA use the Bible to foment hate crimes in Uganda.  As we mourn the death of David Kato, I call on faithful people worldwide to speak out against the export fear and lies in the name of religion.   Let us say in a unified voice, ‘not in my name.’" 

The Rev. Elder Nancy Wilson, moderator of the Metropolitan Community Church, said, "Around the world MCC is known as the human rights church.  We honor the life of David Kato who lived boldly and settled for nothing less than his full humanity.  We pray for people in Uganda, the US and everywhere who fear people because of who they love and who they are. We pray for advocates who risk their lives every day and commit ourselves to work even harder to bring a day of peace, understanding and respect."

"As a Jew, I know what it means to be persecuted for who you are.  The headlines, attacks and religious drum beat of judgment and rejection has an all too familiar ring to it.  Human beings can be fomented into horrific acts.  We must be vigilant to make respect for difference the most basic of human values for all civil societies because we are created b’tzelem elohim, in the image of God," said Dr. Joel L. Kushner, director of Judaism and sexual orientation, Hebrew Union College – JIR.

"The United Church of Christ is a denomination that continues to stand up for LGBT people," said the Rev. Michael Schuenemeyer, UCC Executive for Health and Wholeness Advocacy.  "We urge all denominations to turn the tragedy of David Kato’s death into a moment of gospel clarity that no individual or group should be persecuted in the name of the Bible.  False ideas and fear have no place in Christianity."

Bishop Yvette Flunder, presiding bishop of The Fellowship, said, "We know that David Kato’s life laid the ground work for what is to come.  He had a vision and he pursued it.  It was a vision of a country and a world that is safe for all of us to live and love and pray together as beloved children of God.  David shone the light and all of us are better for his work and life."
“David fought bravely against a rising tide of persecution fomented and fostered in no small measure by a conservative evangelical network emanating from the U.S. that uses disinformation to spread fear and mistrust," said Pam Spees, staff attorney for the Center for Constitutional Rights. "We call for accountability and for people in religious communities to publicly stand against the persecution of LGBT people. We can do no less."

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The National Religious Leadership Roundtable (NRLR), convened by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, is an interfaith network of leaders from eighty-five pro-lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) faith, spiritual and religious organizations. We work in partnership with other groups to promote understanding of and respect for LGBT people within society at large and in communities of faith. We promote understanding and respect within LGBT communities for a variety of faith paths and for religious liberty, and to achieve commonly held goals that promote equality, spirituality and justice.

Update on death of David Kato in Uganda – Vigil, Memorial to be held in NYC

I am sending this message on behalf of the International Program Committee (IPC) of Lutherans Concerned/North America.  By now, many have heard the tragic news of the brutal murder of one of the key Ugandan LGBT advocates, David Kato (see http://tinyurl.com/DavidKatoMurdered).  As news agencies have reported, David was targeted for harassment and bullying by those seeking LGBT repression–in this case, the most extreme form of bullying.  
In the professional work I did previously in Uganda, I sought to enable all Ugandans to participate in the future development of their country. I worked to build a future for Ugandan children particularly, children such as David was back then. As an adult, David gave his life in a tireless effort to enable the LGBT community to live safely and comfortably in the community of Uganda. That his murder comes during a period when certain Christian leaders from the U.S. have been actively campaigning against LGBT people in Uganda and other African nations is extremely disturbing to me (see http://tinyurl.com/UgandaChristian).

Many of you have begun to make plans to join the fund raising campaign mentioned in the all-member-email of January 16, which aims to support the St. Paul’s Reconciliation and Equity Center established by Bishop Senyonjo in Kampala (see http://stpaulsfoundation.com).  One of the focuses of the Center’s work will be on establishing sanctuary, so as to provide a shelter from the kind of violence that killed David Kato. We welcome your participation and will send more information on the steps to follow for consolidation of the funds raised.

While the fundraising details are being worked out, I ask you to offer up your prayers for David and all who mourn him.  And I, too, ask for your prayers–this intersection of oppression has proved a bitter one for me.  

There are two important, related events being organized as I write this.

  1. The International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission, LC/NA, and over thirty other organizations are co-sponsoring a silent vigil and procession in New York City to mourn David Kato’s ruthless murder. It will be held Thursday, February 3.  For the full info, please see http://lutheransconcerned.blogspot.com/2011/02/vigil-to-commemorate-slain-ugandan.html.
  2. On Monday, February 7, a Memorial Service will be held for David Kato at Riverside Church (490 Riverside Dr., New York, NY). Please see http://tinyurl.com/KatoService.

I implore all those who live in the Metro New York area to attend one or both of these events.

In Christ’s name, who reconciles all,
Philip Moeller
Director, International Program Committee
Lutherans Concerned/North America

David Kato Memorial at the United Nations

Dear all: 

A week ago, we witnessed the death of Ugandan Human Rights Defender David Kato – he was a  remarkable human rights activist with an inspiring story and so we want to remember him with thanksgiving, confession and a renewed commitment to the fact that every human being is entitled to safety and security under the law and when a law is created which refuses the living of life because of the prejudices of a populace, we’ve got to take a stand with the one who is refused that life.

We also know that the human rights he was determined to defend (the LGBT population) were of a population that  Christianity as well as other religions have condemned, and spread through colonialization even unto today.   This part of Uganda is especially influenced by an evangelical fervor against homosexuality.

Please come and reflect and renew our action together for the sake of all persons –  the elderly, the middle aged, the young adults, the youth and the children of the world…. in the Chapel at CCUN at noon on Wednesday.   

We hope to advise of the actions that are happening around this concern in the U.N. area and in the Churches (and perhaps other religions) at that service.

Thank you.
Kathleen

Chaplain, Church Center for the United Nations
777 United Nations Plaza, 10th Floor
New York, NY 10017
212-682-3633, ext. 3127

Download the flyer for the service

David Kato murdered in Uganda

David Kato, a tireless LGBT advocate and spokesperson with Sexual Minorities Uganda, was murdered in his home. Kato’s name was published by a Ugandan newspaper decrying the "Top 100 Homosexuals In Uganda" with a call to "hang them."

Kato also worked Soulforce as part of the United Nations Faith Coalition. We are deeply saddened by this greivous crime and the loss of a great person. We will update you as more develops.

American Jewish World Service mourns the loss of David Kato

AJWS is deeply saddened and outraged by the brutal murder of David Kato, a Ugandan LGBTI activist. Kato was one of the most visible and vocal defenders of human rights for LGBTI Ugandans and served as the advocacy officer for the organization Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG). He partnered closely with AJWS’s Ugandan grantees to voice opposition to the Anti-Homosexuality Bill — a piece of proposed legislation that would strengthen existing penalties against homosexuality and make same-sex relations in Uganda punishable by prison. Among the bill’s many dangerous provisions, a person who fails to report within 24 hours the identity of anyone perceived to be LGBTI or who supports the human rights of LGBTI people, would be subject to up to three years’ imprisonment.

Read the full statement

Decriminalization Now!

Decriminalization now! Worldwide freedom for gender and sexaul minorities from state sanctioned violence

In light of David Kato’s murder in Uganda, it is even more urgent that all people join our voices to call for the immediate end to the criminalization of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer lives.

"I support decriminalization of the lives of sexual minorities (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people) in all nations of the world.  I object to the use of USA tax-exempt status by churches and organizations who promote "ex-gay" or reparative therapy messages and/or homophobic missions in all nations of the world.  I call for a thorough investigation of these organizations and their practices."

SLDN Making History, Moving Forward Dinner

A message from our friends at Servicemembers Legal Defense Network (SLDN),

We are honored to welcome Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and former Congressman Patrick Murphy (D-PA), as co-chairs of SLDN’s 19th Annual National Dinner – Making History, Moving Forward – on March 19 at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC.

These tireless champions courageously led the fight last year in the Senate and House to pass "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell" repeal legislation. And in less than eight weeks, we will salute their leadership in an evening of celebration and reflection. We hope you can be there.

Time is quickly running out to RSVP. Seating is limited and tickets will sell out very soon. Any day now invitations will hit your mailboxes, but you can beat the last-minute rush and register online.

RSVP today. www.sldn.org/dinner

Heroes of the repeal movement – veterans, legislative leaders and advocates, as well as supporters from coast to coast – will join as one to celebrate and recommit to achieving full equality for LGBT service members at this year’s National Dinner.

We hope you can experience this special time of inspiration with the SLDN family. Purchase your ticket now to ensure you have a seat at the table.

RSVP today. www.sldn.org/dinner

Your resilience through the years helped us pass the historic repeal bill in 2010, and your dedication will continue to change lives for LGBT patriots as we resolve to tackle new challenges this year.

We look forward to seeing you March 19.

Hospital Visitation Regulations Go Into Effect Today

From the White House blog
Posted by Brian Bond, Deputy Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, on January 18, 2011 at 05:41 PM EST

"There are few moments in our lives that call for greater compassion and companionship than when a loved one is admitted to the hospital.  In these hours of need and moments of pain and anxiety, all of us would hope to have a hand to hold, a shoulder on which to lean – a loved one to be there for us, as we would be there for them."

With those words on April 15, 2010 President Obama directed HHS Secretary Sebelius to initiate rulemaking to ensure that hospitals that participate in Medicare and Medicaid respect the rights of patients to designate visitors.  The President further advised that the rule should ensure that participating hospitals may not deny visitation privileges based on factors including sexual orientation or gender identity.
Today the new Hospital Visitation Regulations go into effect.

This policy impacts millions of LGBT Americans and their families.  The President saw an injustice and felt very strongly about correcting this and has spoken about it often over the years.  I want to thank HHS Secretary Sebelius and her team for their resolve to see this rule implemented.  In fact, long before this rule was finalized, back in June, 2010 the Secretary laid the groundwork by reaching out to leaders of major hospital associations asking them to encourage their member hospitals to not wait for the formal rulemaking to run its course regarding patient-centered visitation rights suggested by the President.

This significant policy change is due in no small part to the journeys of two incredibly courageous and passionate women, Janice Langbehn and Charlene Strong.  Both lived through unimaginable experiences with the loss of their wives and life partners.   While I never had the opportunity to meet Janice’s wife Lisa Pond, or Charlene’s wife Kate Fleming, I have had the honor to meet and work with Janice and Charlene.  I want to thank them for bringing us all into their lives and for sharing themselves and their families with us, and for using their voices to make lives better for LGBT families.

Soulforce @ Creating Change

Join our special Soulforce @ Creating Change mailing list to receive exclusive information about our time at the Creating Change conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota. We will use this information to send workshop announcements and reminders, plan meetups, organize other events, and distribute information and reflections. If you are a Soulforce supporter and will attend Creating Change, this mailing list will keep you connected!