Chairwoman Hautala has rejected claims of Ugandan Ambassador that the killed LGBT activist, Mr David Kato, was partly responsible for his own death due to his sexuality. Chairwoman stressed that such views are in dire violation of universal values and fundamental rights.[:]
H.E. Mr Stephen T.K. Katenta-Apuli
Embassy of the Republic of Uganda
Permanent Mission to the European Commission
Avenue de Tervuren 317
On behalf of the President of the European Parliament, I am writing to you concerning the tragic death on 26 January 2011 of one of the most prominent Ugandan human rights defenders and LGBT rights advocate, and responding to your letter to the President of the European Parliament dated March 25th.
Mr Kato’s work was held in highest esteem by the European Parliament, as reflected by the resolutions of 17 December 2009 on Uganda concerning anti-homosexual draft legislation, and that of 16 December 2010 concerning the so-called ‘Bahati bill’ and discrimination against the LGBT population in Uganda.
The Subcommittee on Human Rights of the European Parliament cooperated with Mr Kato, most notably by way of inviting him to testify on 30 November 2010 before the Subcommittee on attacks against the LGBT community in Uganda. At its meeting on 7 February, following his death, the Sub-committee respected his memory with one minute’s silence.
In the first plenary session after the death of Mr Kato, the European Parliament adopted, on 17 February, a resolution, strongly condemning the violent murder and regretted that the Ugandan authorities have not responded adequately to discriminatory views expressed about homosexual persons. The Parliament pointed to Uganda’s obligations under international law and the Cotonou Agreement, in particular the duty to protect all persons – regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity – against threats or violence against them.
In this regard, I feel obliged to share with you a real feeling of surprise and disappointment felt in the Parliament over the content of your letter.
The private life of an individual be discussed in connection to a matter belonging to a public sphere. All individuals have a right to privacy. Any references made to sexuality and to the sexual conduct of Mr Kato is not only irrelevant but inappropriate. To express a view that due to his conduct Mr Kato should share the responsibility for his own murder reflects a categorically unsound and entirely unacceptable way of thinking.
At the core of the matter is a question over the principle of equality and non discrimination. In a situation where authorities assail the work of an individual who is only exercising his basic right to freedom of expression, the fundamental values and rights of equality and non-discrimination, including on the grounds of sexual orientation, are inevitably assailed too.
In this regard, I would also like to recall that the new Article 8(4) of the Cotonou Agreement states that the political dialogue between the EU and ACP countries “(Africa, Caraibes, Pacific…) should focus, inter alia, on (…) discrimination based on any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status”. The non-discrimination of individuals is a universal value of each human being.
To sum up: the Parliament resolution you refer to insisted on the fact that sexual orientation is a matter falling within the sphere of the individual right to privacy and is, as such, a universal value which should be respected and defended under all circumstances.
In this line, the European Parliament is in line with international calls, such as the appeal by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for the universal decriminalisation of homosexuality, which was launched on 10 January 2010.
Through our secretariat this reply to your letter will be communicated to the co-chairs and the secretary general of the JPA.
Chairwoman of European Parliament Subcommittee on Human Rights