New York, NY; January 28, 2011— American Jewish World Service (AJWS), an international development and human rights organization, has issued a call for members of the Jewish community to stand in solidarity with Uganda’s LGBTI community in the wake of Ugandan LGBTI activist David Kato’s murder in Kampala earlier this week.
The pledge, which can be signed at http://ajws.org/lgbtistatement, reads:
“The Jewish community responds with sadness, anger and outrage to the devastating loss of LGBTI Ugandan activist, David Kato, who was brutally murdered on January 26, 2011. We urge the Ugandan government to quickly and thoroughly investigate the circumstances of David’s death, and prosecute those who are responsible for this injustice. We also call for increased protection for human rights defenders and for the LGBTI community in Uganda.
“In the spirit of b’tselem elohim, the Jewish principle that each person is created in the divine image, we recognize that every human life is of equal value and that there is no place in our world for bigotry, hate and violence. We stand in solidarity with LGBTI people in Uganda and pray for their freedom, safety and strength.
“As Jewish global citizens, we pledge to do everything we can to speak out against this injustice and to partner with human rights activists in building a just and peaceful world.”
Kato, the advocacy officer for Sexual Minorities Uganda, an LGBTI coalition, partnered closely with several of AJWS’s Ugandan grantees in opposition to the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, a draconian piece of legislation that would strengthen existing penalties against homosexuality and make same-sex relations in Uganda punishable by imprisonment. The bill also proposes up to three years imprisonment for anyone who fails to report within 24 hours the identity of a person suspected to be LGBTI.
AJWS has been working to ensure that its partners in Uganda can effectively advance human rights in the face of growing insecurity and violence. LGBTI activists and their allies have become increasingly concerned about their safety and privacy since October, when a Ugandan newspaper published several of their names, pictures and residential addresses under the headline: “Hang Them.” Kato was among the activists identified by the tabloid.
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