- Views & Opinions
A federal judge heard arguments Jan. 7 on whether to keep alive a case alleging that Massachusetts evangelical Scott Lively’s anti-gay efforts in Uganda constitute persecution under federal and international law.
Sexual Minorities Uganda is the plaintiff in the complaint filed by Center for Constitutional Rights, based in the United States.
Lively worked with Ugandan government officials and religious leaders on anti-LGBT policies and legislation, specifically the bill that proposed the execution of gays.
The complaint before the district court alleges that Lively sought to deprive LGBT people in Uganda of their fundamental human rights based on identity, which is the definition of persecution under international law and a crime against humanity.
U.S. law allows foreign citizens to sue U.S. citizens for crimes against humanity under the Alien Tort Statute.
A leader of Sexual Minorities Uganda, Pepe Julian Onziema, said on Jan. 7, “Coming face to face with the man who has caused us so much pain is important to me. We want him held accountable for the escalating homophobia and persecution in Uganda. This case is about making it clear to people who have exported their hate agenda to Uganda that their actions have a very real effect on us and they must stop.”
Lively has a reputation at home and abroad for anti-LGBT efforts. He is the author of “The Pink Swastika: Homosexuality in the Nazi Party” and “Seven Steps to Recruit-Proof Your Child.”
For more than a decade, he has traveled to Uganda, Latvia, Moldova and other countries to consult with political leaders on anti-gay efforts and legislation.
In the federal court case, the Liberty Counsel, the legal defense associated with Jerry Falwell’s right-wing Liberty University, is representing Lively.
The counsel wants the case dismissed because the First Amendment protects Lively’s work.
It’s this motion that the judge in Springfield, Mass., must decide before the civil trial can proceed.