Friday, March 16, 2012
Sexual Minorities Uganda Sues Scott Lively
Scott Lively, founder of Abiding Truth Ministries and author of The Pink Swastika, is an American preacher with a long history of homophobic statements, as meticulously documented by Right Wing Watch and Box Turtle Bulletin. Lively is one of several U.S. Christian figures (i.e., Lou Engle) who have promoted anti-gay sentiments in Uganda, a situation discussed in a 2010 report by the Advocate. Human Rights Watch nominated Lively for its 2011 "Homophobia Hall of Shame" for his global activism against LGBT equality (more here). To boot, the Southern Poverty Law Center labeled Abiding Truth Ministries a hate group. This week, Lively's anti-gay activism just landed him in hot water.
On March 14th, the Center for Constitutional Rights filed a lawsuit in U.S. federal court against Scott Lively on behalf of Sexual Minorities Uganda. The suit alleges that Lively's anti-gay efforts in Uganda constitute persecution, making it the first known alien tort statute case related to persecution on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, according to the CCR. The New York Times reports that the lawsuit named four co-conspirators alongside Lively: Stephen Langa, the organizer of a 2009 anti-gay seminar in Uganda; Martin Ssempa, an anti-gay Ugandan preacher; David Bahati, the Ugandan MP behind a draconian anti-gay bill; and James Buturo, a proponent of the bill.
The New York Times reports that in 2009, Scott Lively, Caleb Lee Brundidge, and Don Schmierer of "ex-gay" group Exodus International participated in a conference on the "gay agenda" in Kampala, Uganda. The article reports that the three men presented talks on the alleged evils of the gay movement, the alleged sexual predations of gay men, and how to supposedly make homosexuals straight. (Lively posted a short report about the seminar here.) A month after the Kampala conference, Ugandan MP David Bahati introduced a draconian anti-gay bill in Uganda parliament, which drew fierce global criticism. According to Alan Colmes, Lively called Bahati's legislation "a step in the right direction". He also admitted that he helped start Uganda's so-called "pro-family" movement in an interview with Vanguard correspondent Mariana von Zeller.
Lively told World Net Daily that he was being targeted "for speaking the truth of the Bible in a foreign country." According to the article, Lively claimed that he urged Ugandan parliamentarians to focus on therapy rather than punishment for homosexuals, and that he opposed the death penalty provision in Bahati's bill.
A pro-LGBT demonstration coincided with the suit against Lively. Truth Wins Out reports that on March 14th, pro-LGBT demonstrators performed a silent protest outside of Holy Grounds Coffee House in Springfield, Massachusetts, which Lively owns. John Becker of Truth Wins Out reports that some protesters carried signs with pictures of Ugandan hate crime victims, while others covered their faces to represent the silencing of LGBT people in Uganda.
This is intriguing news. Although the final outcome of Sexual Minorities Uganda v. Lively remains to be seen, it will still drawn attention to the activities of anti-gay U.S. preachers in Uganda. Whether it can be proven that Lively's international anti-gay activism constitutes persecution, this action nevertheless demands accountability for his words and actions.
To learn more about Lively and Abiding Truth Ministries, click here. For additional commentary, visit the following links.
Religion Dispatches: American Evangelist Who Sparked Anti-Gay Panic Sued By Ugandan Gay Rights Group
Box Turtle Bulletin: Lawsuit Filed Against Scott Lively For Instigating Anti-LGBT Persecution in Uganda
SPLC Hatewatch: Ugandan LGBT Group Sues Anti-Gay Activist Scott Lively