Uganda President Yoweri Museveni is visiting Texas this weekend to meet with members of the local business community who are interested in investment opportunities and potential business partnerships in Uganda. It appears, however, that local activists have no intention of letting his history of human rights violations go unnoticed.
On Wednesday, the Dallas Voice, a local LGBTQ news outlet, posted a story about the President’s planned visit, noting that several members of the Ugandan immigrant community in Dallas were calling on the LGBTQ community for help in protesting his appearance. As word spread and pressure mounted, the Four Seasons in Irving canceled the President’s stay less than 24 hours later. The Irving Convention Center and the local police department were also beginning to express concern about the controversial head-of-state’s visit.
As of Thursday afternoon, the Gaylord Texan Resort and Convention Center in Grapevine was listed as the event’s new host, but according to Martha Neibling. a spokesperson for the Texan, “They did inquire about staying, but we’re not able to accommodate them because of the short-term notice and requirements that they had.”
Earlier this year, Museveni signed the infamous Anti-Homosexuality Bill into law, making it the Anti-Homosexuality Act (AHA). The AHA—originally dubbed the “Kill the Gays” Bill before the provision applying the death penalty for acts of “aggravated homosexuality” was dropped in favor a life sentences—was later struck down by Uganda’s Constitutional Court based on a technicality, but the legislation maintains popular support and is expected to return.
Activists in Uganda have been resisting these attacks for years, and have gained international attention and support for their efforts. Their opponents, however, are not limited to political and religious leadership in Uganda. PRA senior religion and sexuality researcher Rev. Dr. Kapya Kaoma has carefully and thoroughly documented the influence of U.S. culture warriors such as Scott Lively, Rick Warren, Lou Engle, Sharon Slater, and countless others in the creation and promotion of the AHA. Resistance, therefore, must also extend beyond Uganda’s borders.
The work of opposing and ultimately eliminating these laws and reversing this current trend toward increased persecution of LGBTQ people requires dedicated, ongoing, multifaceted, and necessarily African-led resistance. But Americans, too, have a role to play.
These culture war culprits are based all across the United States. David Dykes, pastor of Green Acres Baptist Church, for example, lives in Tyler, Texas. In 2012, Dykes traveled to Uganda as part of a missionary venture, and proclaimed his support for the country’s anti-LGBTQ stance on Uganda’s largest independent television station, NTV:
“I’m extremely upset that our state department is putting pressure on Uganda to recognize homosexual behavior. And I’m praying that Uganda will say, ‘We don’t want your money, America. It is blood money. It is sin money.’ I hope that you will continue to stand strong on what the Bible defines as the definition of a real marriage.”
Museveni will only be in Texas for a short period of time, but those who have helped choreograph the surge in anti-LGBTQ attacks that we’re seeing in Uganda, Nigeria, Russia, and elsewhere… they’ll still be here long after he leaves. Learn more about who—and where—they are, and then let’s start talking about how we can effectively confront and contain their influence.
Diana Pfaff of the Irving Convention Center notified the Dallas Voice that the Ugandan Embassy had until the close of business on Thursday, Sept. 18, to get all paperwork back to them. Because embassy officials did not meet that deadline, it’s unlikely that the event will take place in Irving as originally planned.