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Ugandan minister raids gay-rights workshop

Uganda's parliament has taken up once more a bill that imposes tough sentences on homosexuals. A raid on a gay-rights workshop may show government support for the bill. 

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As Uganda’s parliament begins discussions once more on an antihomosexuality bill, the Ugandan minister of ethics has accompanied police to shut down a workshop in Entebbe for gay rights activists and to arrest its organizer.

During the raid of the workshop, organized by Freedom and Roam Uganda, Ethics Minister Simon Lokodo told participants to leave or he would order the police to use force.

"I have closed this conference because it's illegal,” Mr. Lokodo was quoted as saying by the Daily Monitor, a Ugandan newspaper. “We do not accept homosexuality in Uganda. So go back home."

Public assembly of gay people is not a crime under Ugandan law, although homosexuality itself is. Bans against homosexuality in Uganda, and in many other countries of Africa, go back as far as the British colonial government, which was guided heavily on social issues by Christian missionaries. A few African countries, such as South Africa, have stripped away colonial-era prohibitions against homosexuality, but other countries, such as Uganda, are working in the opposite direction, adding heavier penalties to the laws that currently exist.

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