August 15, 2013 | by Chris Johnson
Court allows lawsuit against U.S. pastor for helping with Uganda anti-gay bill
Scott Lively, gay news, Washington Blade, anti-gay, ex-gay

A U.S. district judge is allowing a case to proceed Scott Lively for fomenting anti-gay sentiment in Uganda. (Screen shot via YouTube).

A federal district court in Massachusetts announced on Wednesday it will allow a case to proceed against evangelical Christian Scott Lively for unlawfully fomenting anti-gay sentiment in Uganda and encouraging passage of the country’s pending “Kill the Gays” bill.

In a 79-page decision denying summary judgment in favor of Lively, U.S. District Judge Michael Ponsor refers the case to Magistrate Judge Kenneth Neiman for a pretrial scheduling conference.

“The history and current existence of discrimination against LGBTI people is precisely what qualifies them as a distinct targeted group eligible for protection under international law,” Ponsor writes. “The fact that a group continues to be vulnerable to widespread, systematic persecution in some parts of the world simply cannot shield one who commits a crime against humanity from liability.”

Lively, president of the California-based Abiding Truth Ministries, is known for advocating that gay people should be jailed — even in countries overseas. In 2009, Lively was one of three pastors who went to Uganda to deliver a series of talks on the threat of homosexuality to African society.

According to the New York Times, Lively, in addition to these talks, met with Ugandan lawmakers to discuss the now infamous anti-homosexuality legislation colloquially known as the “Kill the Gays” bill, which in some circumstances would institute the death penalty for homosexual acts. Still, Lively later reportedly said he doesn’t support a bill that includes the death penalty.

The California-based pastor has argued for the criminalization of homosexuality at least since 2007, when he wrote an open letter to the Russian people calling for them to make it illegal. The anti-gay propaganda law that has generated significant outcry in recent weeks is along the lines of what Lively envisioned in the letter.

“My philosophy is to leave homosexuals alone if they keep their lifestyle private, and not to force them into therapy if they don’t want it,” Lively wrote “However, homosexuality is destructive to individuals and to society and it should never publicly promoted. The easiest way to discourage “gay pride” parades and other homosexual advocacy is to make such activity illegal in the interest of public health and morality.”

The lawsuit was filed against Lively in March 2012 by the Massachusetts-based Center for Constitutional Rights on behalf of Sexual Minorities Uganda, or SMUG, a Uganda LGBT group working to stop passage of the Uganda’s anti-homosexuality law.

Frank Mugisha, the director of SMUG, told the Washington Blade he’s “very pleased the court ruled to proceed” with the case against Lively.

“This shows that no one can violate international and abuse human rights,” Mugisha said. “LGBT rights are universal.”

The Center for Constitutional Rights is suing Lively on the basis of state law and the Alien Tort Statute, which allows U.S. courts to hear human-rights cases brought by foreign citizens for conduct committed outside the United States. The organization is seeking compensatory damages, declarative relief that Lively’s actions violated the law of nations and an injunction prohibiting him for engaging in such activity again.

Pam Spees, a senior staff attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights, said she’s “elated” the court allowed the case to proceed.

“I think it’s going to have a long-term effect in different places, not only in Uganda, but elsewhere where persecution is happening in this way,” Spees said. “The recognition that LGBT people are entitled to the same protections as anyone else and are entitled to be protected against persecution like any other group is a historic confirmation that this is a basic fundamental principle of international law.”

The social conservative legal firm known as the Liberty Counsel is representing Lively in the case. The organization didn’t immediately respond to the Blade’s request to comment, but Spees said she expects his attorneys to appeal one or more of the grounds the court cited to allow the case to proceed. Resolution to the case, Spees said, could take a number of years.

Mark Bromley, chair of the LGBT international group Council for Global Equality, said the court’s decision to allow the case to proceed “is both persuasive and groundbreaking” because it establishes persecution LGBT people may constitute a crime against humanity.

“This is also a small but important first step in exposing those who seek to export homophobia from the United States to the rest of the world,” Bromley added. “And I hope it serves as a common-sense warning to those political and religious leaders around the world who continue to target LGBT individuals for their own selfish political gain.”

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

7 Comments
  • Scott "Deadly" Lively may be the worst American offender in the Ugandan push for a "Kill Gays" bill but other white American evangelical pastors ( not so innocent Rick Warren?) also signed on.

  • godfrey mwesigye

    Scott is a hero , gay people are a curse in Uganda.Whoever is interested in this gay practice should do it some where else but not in Uganda. Uganda has beautiful women thus Ugandan men don’t have time to drill their fellow men:s behinds.The west should not confuse our young boys and girls into this barbaric culture period.

  • To Godfrey: Why are you reading a gay newspaper? Are you a latent homosexual?

  • Terrific! We need to see more individuals and institutions that have advocated the persecution of gays sued. The catholic church which has taught anti gay hate from pulpits and in schools for centuries for comes resulting in much violence and discrimination against gays.

  • Crimes against humanity, aid in the persecution and murder of fellow men the world over, unprovoked, unwarranted and out-of-the-way fanaticism to murder and kill GLBT peeps the world over; all perpetrated, accepted, sanctioned, blessed and justified in the NAME OF GOD? Sick twisted son-of-a-bitch!

    This monster demonstrates rather clearly before us all just what is so dangerous about the FarReich or any other extremest group, for that matter. For it is NOT the fact that they take themselves seriously, as most of do. But rather that they demonize, tyrannize, terrorize, attacked and vehemently and forthrightly condemn all other spiritual, sexual, and political choices; the Jew, the Muslim, GLBT persons, and many other good people the world over who consider themselves to be upwardly mobile and conscientious loving citizens. And rather than sitting down to discuss logically, sensibly and reasonably SSM, GLBT rights, abortion, Gay Adoption, etc., they disown as ruthlessly and rebelliously abominatory, evil and demonic ALL those who favor choice, inclusiveness, love, compassion and tolerance. They trade on diversity for divisiveness. And murder in the name of God. But what "god" is it exactly do they really serve? A god of hate or a god of love? They must always first and unilaterally disown THEIR OWN dark side, then promptly magnify and viciously inflame everyone elses until at the extreme outcome, thousands, perhaps millions of innocent good GLBT people worldwide are being afflicted, harmed, wrongfully persecuted and even murdered and put to death in the name of their God. But what justifies the wanton murder and destruction of innocent human lives?

    But death shall bring death, and this hateful demon, Satan in disguise on earth , to be sure, shall have to take the full blunt force of the consequences for ANY and ALL murders that are committed and shall be committed there in Uganda under and with his homophobic vitriolic political help and design! He simultaneously murders God own children, while all the while claiming the absolute authority of religion and God in the same breath by which to signify and even justify it. Bloody murdering hypocrite! He shall have the devil to pay by way of God! He is fully deserving of the wrath of the presiding judge over him, as well as God's wrath once he finally enters into the prison system, and they find out who he is and what he is and just what he has done. He won't last 2 months in prison. And a good riddance it shall be!

  • Thanks, David, for bringing this out. I am dumbfounded that there is such moral idiocy. I like the idea of holding clergy accountable.

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