The Ugandan government has issued a statement following reports of gay rights workshops being broken up and NGOs being dissolved saying gay people have the right to freely assemble in the African state.

The Ethics Minister Simon Lokodo signed the statement following international reports on the situation for gay Ugandans.

The statement says: “No government official is (supposed) to harass any section of the community and everybody in Uganda enjoys the freedom to lawfully assemble and associate freely with others.”

Earlier this week, Mr Lokodo had complained to news agency Reuters that foreign support was being sent to NGOs in Uganda to support gays in the country, who currently face life imprisonment if convicted of homosexual acts.

The former Catholic priest believed gays and lesbians were “recruiting” children to homosexuality and said he would dissolve 38 NGOs which were engaged in such activities.

In February, Mr Lokodo instigated a police raid of a gay rights meeting in Entebbe, an act Amnesty International’s Secretary General Salil Shetty said was an “outrageous attempt to prevent lawful and peaceful activities of human rights defenders”.

meeting organised by the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project to train local activists in Kampala how to report human rights abuses was broken up this week.

Ugandan activist Frank Mugisha, Executive Director of Sexual Minorities Uganda, told AP: “I think we’ve really challenged Lokodo now, as this statement shows. He’s facing the pressure.”

An anonymous government official told AP Mr Lokodo was asked by the government to tone down his anti-gay statements, with the source saying he was “going into issues of morality” and giving “unnecessary interviews”.