Ye?il Gazete (Green Newspaper) interviewed Ali Erol about David Kato Vision and Voice Award and LGBT movement in Turkey.
Can you tell us about David Kato and his importance of for LGBT movement?
David Kato was a Ugandan human rights activist. While he was struggling against the human rights violations with his organization, he became a target for government. Media published the pictures of a group of gays and lesbians, including the picture of Kato. Pictures were titled “Hang Them!”. David Kato was working for his cause under such drastic political atmosphere. He was receiving death threats, spent some time in prison and he was under oppression by the Government. He was killed on 26 January 2011 in his home at Kampala by being beaten to death. The government knew his life was under danger but kept silent on the issue. Kato not only became a symbol for LGBT rights but also an example of standing against homophobia and at the same time fighting determinately against religious and nationalist hatred.
The General Manager of International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) stated that “having the Award ceremony inside the Pan-Africa Parliament was a challenge for the whole African continent. The person who dared this challenge was David Kato, even though this meant the cost of his life.”
What is the situation of LGBT movement in Uganda? Is it true that it is the most problematic country in the world on this issue?
Expressions like “the most problematic country in the world” might imply that the homophobic violence is unique to that region, but it is not! Homophobia and hatred are global issues! We must see that homophobia and hatred are global ideologies that transcends the borders and not unique to any region or country. These ideologies are discriminatory as they intervene into our lives and prevent us from expressing ourselves as LGBTs.
“Traditional values” and their political counterparts and similar excuses, which are hypothetically loved by conservatives, brought harm to those who do not conform to heterosexual norms. Today, this problem made the world a place where, people are not only attempting to deprive LGBTs of their rights, but also debate whether to intervene into the lives of them. We should not forget this perspective, but yes, the political discussions in Uganda and many other regions in Africa are horrifying. The bill that is on the political agenda today in Uganda anticipates executions for LGBTs. The homophobia inherited from the colonial past is now institutionalized. Moreover American Evangelists also planted seeds of hatred. All these culminated today into a “Kill the homosexuals!” atmosphere. In the short term such religious and political hypocrisy will affect the lives of the most marginalized groups which are seen as most dispensable ones. Despite all these, thanks to the courage of David Kato’s organization “National Minorities Uganda” and his supportive family and friends, this homophobic wave of hatred will be dispersed.
What is the level of contact of Kaos GL with other LGBT movements and event around the world?
When we started to move in our way in early 90’s, we told LGBTs who live in Turkey that “There is no need for a fear of belatedness; we can build our local and grassroots movement ourselves.” We followed this path and at the same time tried to reach every opposition group and tried to transform them. We did it both to show solidarity and to point out that even the different forms of discriminations overlap at some common roots. We tried to build horizontal networks that will transgress our boundaries. As part of this process LGBT communities of countries from the Balkans, Middle East and Caucasus come together in “Regional Network Meetings Against Homophobia” to emancipate together for three years now. In the same vein, we are trying to improve the “International Feminist Forum” against sexism and homophobia.
Even when Kaos GL magazine was just a photocopy publication, we were trying to follow the struggles against heterosexism in different parts of the world, from Zimbabwe to Russia, from China to the Americas. Today the possibilities of and means for circulation of practices against heterosexism around the world increased a lot. Especially due to the “International Meeting Against Homophobia” which was first organized in 2006, we are able to organize new networks that can contribute to the movement both in practice and in theory.
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