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David Kato honoured at official University College opening

Posted on 15 March 2023

The University of York has honoured the life of human rights defender and gay rights activist, David Kato, with the official opening of its newest college.

Meggie (Human Rights Defender ), Lady Mayoress - Lynda Carr, Lord Mayor of York - Councillor David Carr, Vice-Chancellor Charlie Jeffery, Abigail ((Human Rights Defender) Paul Gready, Director of the Centre for Applied Human Rights, Dr Ioana Cismas, Co-Director of the Centre for Applied Human Rights

David Kato, born in Uganda, came to the University of York in 2010 for six months as a Protective Fellow on the Human Rights Defenders Programme at the Centre for Applied Human Rights (CAHR). 


His time at York provided respite from his role in Uganda as a human rights activist, and his legacy supports the University’s continued commitment to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities (LGBT+).  David was tragically murdered in Kampala in 2011, weeks after winning a court victory over a tabloid paper that called for homosexuals to be killed.

The University officially opened the David Kato College on Campus East with a panel discussion with Paul Gready, Co-Director of the University’s Centre for Applied Human Rights; Emmy-award-winning producer of investigative films on human rights abuses, Karim Shah; and Fawzia Ehsani, a recent York graduate who is a refugee Scholar from Afghanistan. 

The discussion was followed by a formal reception and the opening of an exhibition curated by the University’s Centre for Applied Human Rights.


The event was anchored by the University’s 60th anniversary, and as well as celebrating David’s life and legacy, reflected on the importance of the University’s research partnership with UNESCO and the launch of their new Sanctuary Fund.  

At the event, the University of York’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Charlie Jeffery, said: “It is an enormous pleasure to welcome you all to celebrate the opening of the David Kato College, which is the University’s 11th college. 

“As a University of Sanctuary, we pride ourselves on offering a welcoming and safe place for refugees, asylum seekers and other people who have been forced to leave their homes. 

“David Kato is an inspiring role model for our students, and the naming of the College after him demonstrates our admiration of, and solidarity with, human rights defenders across the world.”

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