, KAMPALA, Uganda, Sep 22 – Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni was blocked from staying at a hotel in Texas due to a campaign by gay rights activists, his office said Monday.
The president faced international condemnation after the Ugandan parliament passed a bill earlier this year that would see homosexuals potentially jailed for life, although the legislation was struck down by the east African nation’s constitutional court.
Museveni, aged 70 and one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders, visited Irving, Texas last week to meet potential investors and members of the Ugandan Diaspora.
“My people made hotel bookings for me, but homosexuals blocked it,” Museveni was quoted as saying by his spokeswoman Sarah Kagingo.
“I said, tell those people who invited me to find me where to sleep. Am not dying to come to Texas,” the president said.
The president was initially booked to stay at a five-star hotel in Irving, but lobbying from gay rights activists reportedly prompted the hotel to cancel his booking. Officials in Uganda said the president finally managed to find alternative accommodation.
The proposed anti-gay law is popular domestically, but was branded draconian and “abominable” by rights groups and condemned by several key donors. It was overturned on a technicality – the lack of a quorum – by the constitutional court on August 1.
Ugandan deputies are currently working to reintroduce to the bill for a new vote in parliament, and are confident that they have the necessary support from MPs.
Homosexuality remains illegal in Uganda and punishable by a jail sentence, even without the tough new law.