Anti-gay leader finds no room at the inn

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Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni struggled to find accommodation during a trip to Texas last week to encourage tourism and investment in his country.

Museveni has been less bullish about Uganda’s anti-gay laws following international condemnation and threats to reduce much-needed aid.
Museveni has been less bullish about Uganda’s anti-gay laws following international condemnation and threats to reduce much-needed aid.

Museveni’s visit had been controversial due to Uganda’s reputation for persecuting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) citizens. The Irving Four Seasons Hotel, which was due to host the Ugandan leader, cancelled the booking when local LGBT activists threatened to hold a protest outside. Museveni’s party then allegedly tried to secure accommodation at the, given the circumstances, unfortunately named Gaylord Texan Resort, owned by the Marriott group of hotels. Gaylord Texan Resort director of marketing and public relations Martha Neibling said: “They did inquire about staying, but we’re not able to accommodate them because of the short-term notice and requirements that they had.”

Uganda is embroiled in an ongoing battle over a piece of legislation that would imprison gays and lesbians for life. Museveni was until recently a vocal advocate of the law, which the Ugandan constitutional court struck down in July. The law, which also banned advocating for the rights of the LGBT community and gave incentives for citizens to report associates of theirs who are gay, was only revoked on procedural grounds, however, leaving it open for re-passage.

Late last week, Dallas Voice reported that Diana Pfaff, a representative of the Irving Convention Centre, venue of the planned investment summit, notified them that “the Ugandan Embassy had until the close of business today [Thursday] to get all paperwork back to them.” But because officials at the embassy did not meet the deadline, the entire event would be cancelled.