UMC Global AIDS Fund Committee Condemns Death of Ugandan Human Rights Activist

February 17, 2011

Calls on religious community to speak out on behalf of marginalized and resist all attempts to promote intolerance and hatred.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The United Methodist Church Global AIDS Fund Committee has joined more than 70 other religious representatives from around the globe in expressing deep concern about the violent death of human rights activist David Kato in Uganda. The Global AIDS Fund Committee calls for religious leaders in Uganda to speak, act, and to urge their faithful to reach out in compassion towards those who are marginalized for any reason and to resist all attempts to promote intolerance and hatred.
Kato, a gay man, was beaten to death Jan. 26 in his home in Kampala. He had recently won a court case challenging the publishing of his photo, name, and address in a Ugandan newspaper in association with a story calling for homosexuals to be hanged. The investigation into his murder is ongoing.
Dr. Donald Messer, chair of the United Methodist Global AIDS Fund Committee, said the decision to speak out about Kato's death was made because of the high number of persons around the world who are gay and living with AIDS. "Those infected with AIDS and who are also gay can face double discrimination in society," he said. "Global AIDS Fund Committee wants to go on record [as] rejecting this level of stigma and violence."
The United Methodist Global AIDS Fund represents the commitment of every United Methodist to put a stop to HIV and AIDS in the world. The fund supports education, prevention, and care and treatment programs for people living with HIV and AIDS. The fund currently supports 175 HIV and AIDS church-oriented and Christ-centered ministries in 37 countries, including the United States.
Through the United Methodist Global AIDS Fund plan, 25% of what each Annual Conference (regional body) raises should be used in that Conference for AIDS work, either locally or in global projects. For more information, visit UMC Global AIDS Fund
The United Methodist Church also is on record as opposing homophobia and heterosexism, speculated to have been the motive for Kato's murder. A resolution calling for homophobia and heterosexism to be eradicated was adopted by the 2008 General Conference, The United Methodist Church's highest policy-making body. The resolution urges the denomination to "strengthen its advocacy of the eradication of sexism by opposing all forms of violence or discrimination based on gender, gender identity, sexual practice, or sexual orientation."