Minister shuts down Uganda gay rights conference By MARTIN SSEBUYIRA in Kampala | Tuesday, February 14   2012 at  19:33

A pro-gays demonstration. Uganda's State Minister for Ethics and Integrity Simon Lokodo broke up a secret gay rights activists conference in Entebbe February 14, 2012. FILE | AFRICA REVIEW 

There was drama at Uganda's Imperial Resort Beach Hotel in Entebbe Tuesday when State Minister for Ethics and Integrity Simon Lokodo broke up a secret gay rights activists conference.

The two-week conference, organised by Freedom and Roam Uganda, an association that lobbies for the recognition of same sex relationships in Uganda, ended prematurely when the minister ordered them to disperse.

"I have closed this conference because it is illegal. We do not accept homosexuality in Uganda. So go back home," Mr Lokodo told the participants.

Hotel staff had been asked by the organisers not to direct anyone to Elgon hall where the conference was taking place, unless the person had been cleared. This would have required a phone call from the organisers.

The minister said the hotel’s management apologised for hosting the event.

Mr Lokodo ordered the arrest of the organisation leader, Ms Jacquline Kasha, but she escaped.

The residential conference attracted 30 participants and was supposed to close on February 14 with an evening barbecue at the hotel’s pool side.

This comes on the heels of a private members Bill recently tabled in Parliament by David Bahati that seeks to punish "aggravated homosexuality," and proposes the death sentence for someone deemed to be a "serial offender".

Although homosexuality is illegal under the penal code, public assembly of gay persons is not a crime. But that would change once Bahati's Bill is signed into law.