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The compelling case against anti-gay activist Scott Lively

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – The tables could be turning on anti-gay agitator Scott Lively, whose evangelical preaching and homophobic writings have demonized LGBT people the world over.

On Monday, Jan. 7, Lively is scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in Springfield, Mass., where his attorneys will attempt to get charges dismissed that he violated the Alien Tort Statute of the United States Code. The law allows the United States to hear human-rights cases brought by foreign citizens for conduct committed outside the U.S.

In this particular case, Lively is being sued “for crime against humanity” by Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), a human-rights group headed by Frank Mugisha that is based in Kampala, Uganda.

Lively has openly meddled in foreign politics in Uganda and other nations on several continents, conducting anti-gay campaigns under the guise of ministry with the goal of depriving LGBT people of their basic human rights. In the lawsuit, SMUG lists in breathtaking details all the methods Lively employs to fan the flames of homophobia in Uganda, whose Parliament has been trying since 2009 to pass the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, aka the “Kill The Gays” bill.

That controversial bill will have top priority when Uganda’s Parliament returns from holiday break for a new session that starts in February. The draconian bill with the death penalty for those convicted of being homosexual has been broadly condemned, led by the U.S., UK, European Union and much of the western world. Also known as the Bahati bill, the measure has been met by silence by leaders of the 76 countries where it is still illegal to be gay.

The lawsuit [ please read the full document below ], in part, says:

“Lively’s 2009 work in Uganda and his call to arms to fight against an ‘evil’ and ‘genocidal,’ ‘pedophilic’ ‘gay movement,’ which he liked to the Nazis and Rwandan murderers, ignited a cultural panic and atmosphere of terror that radically intensified the climate of hatred in which Lively’s goals of persecution could advance. Shortly after Lively’s pivotal 2009 work in Uganda, one Member of Parliament [Christopher Kibansanga, Shadow Minister of Information and National Guidance] expressed, ‘We must exterminate homosexuals before they exterminate society.’”

The lawsuit cites the raid by Ugandan authorities on Feb. 14, 2012, of a meeting by LGBT activists in Entebbe. Simon Lokodo, State Minister for Ethics and Integrity, burst into a conference, closed it down and ordered the arrest of organizer Jacqueline Kasha, who escaped safely.

SMUG asks the court for a trial jury and for compensatory as well as punitive and exemplary damages. The suit also seeks a declaratory judgment holding that Lively’s conduct was in violation of the laws of nations.

Lively is being sued as an individual and as president of Abiding Truth Ministries, a conservative Christian organization based in Temecula, Calif. Abiding Truth Ministries is labeled as an anti-gay hate group by the highly respected Southern Poverty Law Center.

On Monday, Lively’s attorneys from Liberty Counsel, the legal arm of Liberty University, founded by notorious anti-gay pastor Jerry Falwell, will attempt to get the lawsuit dismissed. Lively claims that his freedom of speech and freedom of assembly are being stiffled.

SMUG will be represented by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), including attorney Pamela C. Spees. Recently, Spees and Mugisha participated in a conference call with journalists to discuss Monday’s hearing and the growingly tense situation in Uganda, where LGBT people face blatant discrimination, hate crimes, vandalism and violence. SMUG co-founder David Kato, an internationally known equality advocate for SMUG, was murdered on Jan. 26, 2011, four months after his photo was published by a tabloid exposing LGBT people in Uganda with a banner headline: “Hang them.”

Spees told the media that the lawsuit, brought under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS), is a first-of-its-kind case seeking “accountability for persecution on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.” If successful, the law could be used to prosecute others who export homophobia to other countries.

She said the plaintiffs would use audio and video tapes of Lively’s speeches and rallies in Uganda to document that Lively “conspired” with political and religious leaders in Uganda to persecute LGBT people. “The speeches are evidence of his involvement in this conspiracy,” Spees said.

Lively has gone on the attack against the lawsuit, calling it an “incitement case,” Spees said, and claiming that his rights are being abridged.

Spees noted the irony that Lively complains about his rights being under attack, when in fact Lively is attempting to deprive LGBT people of their human rights. “The harm here is Lively’s longstanding activism to strip LGBT people in Uganda and elsewhere of their freedom of speech and assembly,” she said.

Mugisha updated the media on the “Kill The Gays” bill and warned that the death penalty was still in play. He urged constant pressure from human-rights supporters from across the globe to stop Parliament from passing the bill.

Rally in Springfield on Monday

Starting at 10 am ET Monday, Jan. 7, Stop the Hate and Homophobia Coalition of Springfield and other activists will rally outside the federal courthouse, 300 State St., in Springfield, Mass.

Participants are asked to bring signs in support of the cause.

The hearing, which starts at 11 am ET, is expected to last about an hour. Afterward the hearing, the plaintiffs will conduct a press conference outside the courthouse. Speakers at the press conference include:

• Attorney Pam Spees, CCR

• Frank Mugisha, Executive Director of SMUG

• Jane Fleishman, MS, Certified Sex Educator and Stop the Hate and Homophobia Coalition member

• Cathy Kristofferson, State Co-Lead of GetEQUAL MA and Stop the Hate and Homophobia Coalition member

• Theresa Coley-Kouadio, Assistant Pastor of Christ's Community Church and Stop the Hate and Homophobia Coalition member

Ken Williams is Editor in Chief of SDGLN. He can be reached at ken@sdgln.com, @KenSanDiego on Twitter, or by calling toll-free to 888-442-9639, ext. 713.

SMUG Amended Complaint