US Evangelist To Face Charges for Uganda Anti-Gay Action
Abiding Truth Ministries’ (ATM) motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) was denied on Wednesday this week, leaving a case of international influence over LGBT rights ready for pretrial scheduling.
The lawsuit was filed on March 14, 2012 by the CCR on behalf of Sexual Minorities Uganda against Abiding Truth Ministries’ President, Scott Lively. The lawsuit stems from Lively’s participation in anti-gay efforts in Uganda, where any male or female homosexual activity is illegal. Men are liable to being imprisoned for life, if found to be engaging in any gay sexual activity.
According to the New York Times, Lively has been involved with members of Uganda’s legislature, pushing for litigation to impose more severe penalties on Uganda’s LGBT community, which numbers in the half million range.
The lawsuit says that Lively has a history of sensationalizing what LGBT community members would do in Uganda if not persecuted, “Lively advises in Redeeming the Rainbow, his how-to book, that the most effective way of preventing public sympathy for gays is to suggest and emphasize a threat to children of sexual violence and recruitment that he alleges the gay movement poses.”
Lively has traveled internationally, preaching against the ‘gay agenda’ in countries such as Uganda, Latvia, and Moldova. In 2009, during one of his trips to Uganda, Lively spoke at a three-day-conference called Seminar on Exposing the Homosexual Agenda, where he said, “when [homosexuals] see a child that’s from a broken home, it’s like they have a flashing neon sign over their head.”
Lively founded ATM in California in 1997 and has been based in Springfield, Massachusetts since 2008. According to the Southern Law Poverty Center, ATM is classified as a hate group.
In 2009, a bill was considered in the Ugandan legislature which could have placed the death sentence on homosexuals. While the bill had failed after facing pressure from the US and several European nations, the bill had been reintroduced in February of 2012, the month before CCR’s lawsuit was filed.
Known as the “Kill the Gays Bill,” Supporters of the bill are also hoping to prosecute LGBT Ugandans abroad and those who fail to report neighbors or family members who they know to be gay.
The lawsuit is considered an Alien Tort Statute (ATS) case, with the court case scheduled to be heard in Springfield, Massachusetts. The ATS holds that “The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of any civil action by an alien for a tort only, committed in violation of the law of nations or a treat of the United States.” This will be the first ATS case on an LGBT civil rights issue. Lively hoped to dismiss the case on the basis that this allegations took place outside of any US court’s jurisdiction, but the judge upheld the ATS.
No confirmation has been given on when any future court dates will be held.
Museveni said he was not worried by the aid cuts that followed the initial law, but warned that the law would likely antagonize consumers in the West, risking access to a rich export market.October 10, 2014
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