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Uganda minister shuts down gay rights conference

A Ugandan cabinet minister accompanied by police raided a gay rights conference, claiming that one of the organizers had insulted him and demanded she be arrested, The Guardian reported on Wednesday.

The minster for ethics and integrity Simon Lokodo told activists that the gathering at a hotel in Entebbe on Tuesday was an "illegal assembly," the newspaper reported.

"You should not allow people to plan the destruction of your country. You cannot allow terrorists to organize to destroy your country," he told the newspaper.

Homosexuality remains taboo in Uganda, where Pentecostal clerics have made the fight against gay culture one of their core messages. Homosexuality is already illegal under Uganda's penal code.

Lokodo also tried to get prominent activist Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera arrested but she fled before he could, the Guardian reported.

"I wanted to arrest a lady who was abusing me and calling me a liar," Lokodo told the newspaper.

Lokodo's move came days after the country's parliament tabled an anti-homosexuality bill.  While references to the death penalty for some homosexual acts had been removed, it still contained provisions for life imprisonment for "aggravated homosexuality."

The anti-homosexuality bill was reintroduced last week by legislator David Bahati, who said when he first introduced the bill in 2009 that his goal was to protect Ugandan children from Western homosexuals who lure them with money and other promises.

It remained unclear if the bill will ever be voted on by parliamentarians. Analysts said it would be passed immediately and that it had not been considered only because it lacked the political blessing of Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who said it undermines his foreign policy agenda.

The bill has been condemned by leaders in Europe and the U.S., including by President Barack Obama. European countries such as Sweden have threatened to cut aid to Uganda if the bill is passed.

"The knock-on effect of passing this bill would reach far beyond gay and lesbian people in Uganda, impeding the legitimate work of civil society, public health professionals, and community leaders," Michelle Kagari, the deputy program director for Africa at Amnesty International, said in a statement.

 Msnbc.com staff and The Associated press contributed to this report.

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