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Texas Hotel Reportedly Cancels Ugandan President’s Stay Over His Anti-Gay Views

CREDIT: AP Photo/Rebecca Vassie

Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni gestures after signing the anti-gay bill

A Dallas-area hotel abruptly cancelled the stay of Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni, a local news site reported on Thursday, days before demonstrators planned to protest his country’s anti-gay policies.

Museveni is scheduled to be in Texas this weekend to speak in Irving at the local Convention Center, according to Dallas Voice, which touts itself as the “premier media source for LGBT Texas.”

“Museveni is in Dallas to promote tourism and look for investors in his country’s oil and gas industry,” the site said in a post this week, and ExxonMobil’s world headquarters are nearby. An Eventbrite page linked in the post provided details: “Uganda’s growing significance in the global marketplace has attracted investors around the world. Ugandans and Friends of Uganda are invited to discuss Uganda’s increasing economonic [sic] strength and investment opportunities for the Ugandan Diaspora in America.”

“Several members of the Ugandan community asked members of the LGBT community to join them protesting Museveni and the genocide he has repeatedly threatened to unleash on the gay community,” the Dallas Voice’s article said. The story noted that protesters were planning to meet ahead at the Irving Convention Center to meet the Ugandan president.

On Wednesday morning, the site posted a follow-up story, reporting that the Four Seasons in Irving had cancelled the accommodations that Musevini and his first lady had booked as a result of their original post. Instead, Museveni was “currently negotiating with the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center in Grapevine to host his stay.”

When ThinkProgress reached out to the Four Seasons, the hotel’s Director of Marketing, Lance Peters, said he was “not able to comment on any guest that may or may not be here” due to guest privacy rules. But the Gaylord Texan did confirm that Museveni and his entourage had reached out to the hotel for alternate lodging.

“They did inquire about staying, but we’re not able to accommodate them because of the short-term notice and requirements that they had,” Martha Neibling, the Texan’s director of marketing and public relations, told ThinkProgress in a phone call.

Uganda is the home of an ongoing battle over a piece of legislation that would imprison gays and lesbians in prison 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 turn in associates of theirs who are gay — was only revoked on procedural grounds, however, leaving it open for re-passage.

But despite his longtime support, Museveni reportedly was prepared to backtrack after the court’s ruling. An anonymous source present at a meeting between Museveni and members of his political party quoted the president as saying, “A country which has no vision punishes a divided house. We need to work together through consensus and use of collective methods.”

That exit ramp would be a relief for Uganda, which was soundly condemned throughout the international community when the bill first passed. In response to the its enactment, the U.S. and other countries and multilateral institutions scolded Museveni and sought to put together a coordinated response. The U.S. in June, after a review at the State Department, placed sanctions on Ugandan officials it deemed as violating human rights, and cut off financial support to several government programs. The travel ban placed on those officials, who went unnamed at the time of the announcement, apparently did not include Musevini himself, who is apparently still able to enter the country — though finding lodging seems to be more difficult than originally planned.

UPDATE

Dallas Voice on Thursday evening reported that the Irving convention Center notified them that “the Ugandan Embassy had until the close of business today to get all paperwork back to them.” But because officials at the embassy did not meet the deadline, the entire event has reportedly been canceled. The Eventbrite page, however, is still active as of Friday morning.

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