Scott Lively, pastor and head of Abiding Truth Ministries, has made warning of the dangers of homosexuality a primary focus of his ministry. According to him, “the gays” are responsible for everything from the Spanish Inquisition to the Holocaust. In fact, even Noah was forced to deal with the gay agenda and had to build the arc since the floods were caused by God’s anger about wedding songs for gay weddings.
No, really, he said that.
Not content to share his beliefs within the confines of the church pews, Lively has spent two decades crusading against the pervasive poison of homosexuality through books, giving talks and promoting legislation, including one bill in Oregon that would have made it legal to discriminate against LGBT people. He also led and/or co-founded organizations with anti-gay agendas, including the Oregon Citizens Alliance and Watchmen on the Wall. Both of these organizations were filled with devout Christians intent on fighting the homosexual agenda.
In March 2002, Pastor Lively took his campaign of hate international when he was invited to speak at a conference in Uganda which focused on the links of homosexuality and pornography. He returned a few months later for more speaking engagements, as well as meeting with local government officials to discuss “practical” solutions to dealing with porn – which he views as a sort of gateway drug to homosexuality. He also had a strong European following for his Watchmen group, which was co-founded with a Russian radio host and Latvian pastor. He did a 50 city European tour in 2007, declaring the gay rights movement “as the most dangerous political movement in the world.”
A subsequent trip to Uganda in 2009 put his crusade on a potentially deadly path and now has him facing a trial for crimes against humanity.
In March 2009, Scott Lively was one of the key speakers at an anti-gay conference held in Kampala, Uganda. He gave three lectures on the final day during which claimed homosexuality was the cause of the Rwandan genocide, Nazism and declared AIDS a justifiable punishment from God. He also identified childhood sexual abuse as a direct cause of being gay.
The remainder of his time in Kampala had him speaking at churches, universities and with parliament about the dangers of homosexuality. At the end of his self-described “resoundingly positive” and “highly successful” campaign, Lively left Uganda assured that the moral climate in Uganda would change significantly in the coming weeks.
It took one month.
In April 2009, a new anti-homosexuality bill was introduced in the Ugandan parliament. Already illegal and punishable by a maximum of life imprisonment, homosexuality was further criminalized by expanding the definition of what was considered homosexual acts. Certain violations were punishable by death.
It would be known as the “Kill the Gays” bill.
In March of 2012, the Center for Constitution Rights filed a federal lawsuit against Scott Lively and his current organization, Abiding Truth Ministries. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), a non-profit umbrella organization for LGBT advocacy groups in Uganda.
The complaint alleges that Lively specifically sought out Uganda to further his agenda, knowing that Uganda was fertile ground to “meaningfully provoke and bring about the persecution of the LGBT community.” It connects his actions, beginning with his 2002 visit to Uganda, to the escalation of anti-gay propaganda and persecution in Uganda, culminating with the Kill the Gays bill.
It is the first known sexual identity and gender discrimination suit under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS), which allows foreign victims to sue corporations, governments and individuals for human rights violations.
Lively’s attorneys sought to get the case dismissed on a variety of claims, including that the plaintiffs had no standing, the Alien Tort Statute did not apply, and everything he said was protected by the First Amendment.
In a ruling last week, a federal judge disagreed, saying that because his activities occurred both in the United States and Uganda, the plaintiffs had standing, including jurisdictional. Furthermore, Lively’s actions went beyond speech and noted deliberate activity to deny LGBT people basic individual rights.
In other words, the case can go forward because “many authorities implicitly support the principle that widespread, systematic persecution of individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity constitutes a crime against humanity that violates international norms” and the plaintiff’s allegations are sufficient at this stage to allow the case to go forward.
The judge did not make a ruling on the merits of the claims, but this clears the way for the trial to proceed.
The Kill the Gays bill has been circulated multiple times, most recently in February of 2013. It’s still awaiting passage in parliament.
In their complaint, Sexual Minorities Uganda seek a judgment declaring Lively’s actions illegal, in violation of international law, and in violation of their fundamental human rights.
They are one step closer to the justice they desire.