Saturday, February 05, 2011

UK Gays Reply on Fundraising
for David Kato & SMUG

There is confusion regarding a just-formed fundraising group by several students at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom. Calling themselves Paragraph 6, without explaining what the name refers to, the group's FAQs page contains no names of the individuals behind the campaign:

There are four of us who make up the core team behind this campaign. We met while studying in Cambridge and somehow all got stuck here for one reason or another. Other than that, we’re a diverse bunch, each representing a different nationality, outlook on life and score on the Kinsey scale.

The unnamed organizers provide details about where the money raised will go, list several money-making events including a pub night and black tie dinner, and the intentions are quite laudable:

ALL of your donations will go directly to helping make a real difference to individuals’ lives. Half of your donations will go to Sexual Minorities Uganda, David Kato’s activist organisation. The other half will be used to support individual LGBT refugees from Africa, who have had to flee their countries. ...

However, on January 29 the Sexual Minorities of Uganda (SMUG) organization's leaders - Frank Mugisha, Val Kalende, Pepe Julian - released a statement about Kato's murder and the aftermath, with this request to activists:

We call for respectful responses towards David Kato’s murder and NOT to use this tragic incident for fund raising campaigns. We thank and encourage everyone who has supported SMUG’s work to continue with us in the fight for LGBT rights. ...

Nothing is posted at the SMUG site about the UK campaign, nor is there a funding pitch posted requesting money be sent directly to SMUG.

I posted a comment to the Paragraph 6 blog, laying out these concerns and questioning the discrepancy between their goals and the objection to fundraising in Kato's name by SMUG. The comment has not yet been approved by the moderator, but in response to an email sent to the Cambridge organizers, they sent back this info:

Dear Michael

Thanks for getting in touch with us.

To be brief: We contacted Frank Mugisha, the Executive Director of SMUG, to ask for his (quote) "permission and endorsement" to raise funds for the purposes now specified on our website before starting our campaign. On January 28th, we received an email reply from him in which he gave us his go-ahead and said that he was looking forward to our support.

However, it is clear that what matters above all is that the wishes of those who knew David Kato best and worked with him in Uganda are respected. We are getting in touch with Frank right now, to reconfirm his earlier endorsement and talk to him about this issue. If there has been a change in opinion regarding our campaign (perhaps because, as it has come to our attention, other people have started raising funds without consulting SMUG first) then we were not informed about that.

We will keep you updated.

The Team

Odd that they don't give any names of who comprises The Team, and they also state that others are also soliciting funds in Kato's name apparently without SMUG's endorsement, adding to my confusion. Paragraph 6 would greatly benefit themselves if they provided transparency as to who exactly the organizers are and make their names public.

Let's hope we soon hear from Frank Mugisha or another SMUG leader directly regarding all this, and the confusion is adequately cleared up and laid to rest.

1 comment:

sfmike said...

SMUG has to be one of the worst acronyms in recorded history. It sounds straight out of one of Evelyn Waugh's African novels, like "Scoop" or "Black Mischief."