Uganda ethics minister raids gay rights conference, threatens to arrest organizer

Mourners at murdered gay rights activist David Kato' funeral close to the town of Mataba.
Marc Hofer

A gay rights conference in Uganda was raided and shut down by a government official, the Daily Monitor reported. Uganda Minister for Ethics and Integrity Simon Lokodo said the workshop was "illegal" and threatened to arrest the organizer, prominent gay rights activist Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera. Nabagesera fled the hotel where the gathering occurred to avoid prison detention, BBC News reported.

"I have closed this conference because it's illegal. We do not accept homosexuality in Uganda. So go back home," Lokodo announced, according to the Daily Monitor.

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The workshop was organized by Freedom and Roam Uganda, a group founded by Nabagesera, at a hotel 25 miles away from the Uganda capital, the BBC said.

The Daily Monitor reported that hotel staff members were asked by the workshop organizers not to direct anyone to the conference room unless the person had been cleared.

Under Uganda law, homosexual acts are punishable by up to 14 years in prison. Ugandan politicians recently re-introduced a bill that would increase that prison sentence to life. 

Homosexuality is considered a mortal sin in Uganda, and gay rights activists often fear for their safety. Last year, Ugandan gay rights activist David Kato was beat to death with a hammer, GlobalPost reported.