Scott Lively (Pic: Tim Pierce)
A US court has dismissed a suit against American evangelist Scott Lively for promoting homophobia in Uganda, but the judge made it clear that it was not due to a lack of evidence.
On Monday, US federal Judge Michael Ponsor ruled that, despite the overwhelming evidence, the court did not have jurisdiction in the case.
Judge Ponsor, however, did not mince words about his views on Scott’s appalling homophobic campaign in Uganda.
“The question before the court is not whether Defendant’s actions in aiding and abetting efforts to demonise, intimidate, and injure LGBTI people in Uganda constitute violations of international law,” wrote Ponsor, “They do.”
The court found that Lively “aided and abetted a vicious and frightening campaign of repression against LGBTI persons in Uganda” and “worked with elements in Uganda who share some of his views to try to repress freedom of expression by LGBTI people in Uganda, deprive them of the protection of the law, and render their very existence illegal.”
Ponsor also accused Lively of “vicious” and “ludicrously extreme animus against LGBTI people” and being determined “to assist in persecuting them wherever they are, including Uganda”.
Lively was sued by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) in the US on behalf of Ugandan LGBTI rights group SMUG under the Alien Tort law, which allows foreign citizens to sue Americans for crimes against humanity.
Ponsor said the court was not able to continue with the matter as a result of a 2013 Supreme Court ruling issued after the case against Livley case was filed. The ruling in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Shell limited the extraterritorial reach of the Alien Tort law.
The judge stated that the only reason he dismissed the charges related to Lively’s “odious campaign” and “crackpot bigotry” was due to this jurisdictional issue “and only this, reason”.
Homophobia, not homosexuality, is a Western export to Africa
“This case is a win for SMUG,” insisted Frank Mugisha, SMUG Executive Director. “The court’s ruling recognised the dangers resulting from the hatred that Scott Lively and other extremist Christians from the US have exported to my country. By having a court recognise that persecution of LGBTI people amounts to a crime against humanity, we have already been able to hold Lively to account and reduce his dangerous influence in Uganda.”
CCR added that given the widespread claim that homosexuality is foreign to Africa and a corrupt Western import, the documentation of the Western role in orchestrating the persecution of LGBTI people is an embarrassment for Lively’s Ugandan partners.
Rutgers Law professor and CCR co-counsel Jeena Shah commented: “The evidence surfaced in this case showed how Lively’s persecutory efforts exploited a long history of Western homophobia in Uganda, beginning with British colonisation.”
In a statement in response to the case being dismissed, Lively continued to claim that none of his actions were criminal or an advocacy of hatred or violence. “What I did was tell the documented truth about the history and tactics of the ‘gay’ political movement, and urge a compassionate Biblical response, emphasising rehabilitation and prevention for LGBT sufferers,” he said.
He thanked his supporters and pledged “to redouble my efforts to speak the truth in love and to support and equip the pro-family movement around the world”.
Lively visited Uganda on at least three occasions to expose the “gay movement” as an “evil institution” and a danger to children. In March 2010 he addressed members of the Ugandan Parliament on the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, advising them to see homosexuality as equivalent to “alcoholism and drug abuse.”
Lively also held workshops in which he told Ugandans that gay people have taken over the UN and America, that they are planning to “recruit” children in Uganda, and are out to destroy society. He has painted the issue of LGBTI equality as being “a war between Christians and homosexuals”.
Lively is the author of crackpot books including The Pink Swastika: Homosexuality in the Nazi Party (in which he accused gay people of being behind the Nazi movement) and Seven Steps to Recruit-Proof Your Child.
Since 2002, he has travelled to Uganda, Latvia, Moldova, Russia and other countries to consult with lawmakers and political leaders on anti-gay efforts and legislation.