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Ugandan gay rights group files lawsuit against U.S. evangelist Scott Lively

By Melanie Nathan
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — A Ugandan gay rights group on Wednesday filed suit in federal court in Massachusetts against notorious American evangelist, Scott Lively, accusing him of violating international law by inciting the persecution of homosexuals in Uganda.

Scott Lively

Lively is the president of Abiding Truth Ministries, a conservative Christian organization that is classified as an anti-gay hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

The lawsuit alleges that beginning in 2002, Lively conspired with religious and political leaders in Uganda to whip up anti-gay hysteria with warnings that homosexuals would sodomize African children and corrupt their culture, reported The New York Times.

The result — The Anti-homosexuality Bill, otherwise known as the “Kill the Gays Bill,” led to increased persecution of the LGBTI Ugandan community.

The Ugandan legislature has considered the Anti-homosexuality Bill over several years since its introduction and re-introduction by one of Lively’s Ugandan contacts, Member of Parliament David Bahati.

The bill seeks to impose the death sentence for so called “aggravated homosexual behavior,” and imprison those guilty of the so called “promotion of homosexuality.”

Lively is being sued by the organization Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) under the alien tort statute, which allows foreigners to sue in American courts in situations alleging the violation of international law.

The suit, filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights on behalf of SMUG, alleges that Lively has waged a “decade-long campaign … in coordination with his Ugandan counterparts, to persecute persons on the basis of their gender and/or sexual orientation and gender identity.”

CCR announced its action this morning in a conference call with reporters:

CCR is bringing the suit under the Alien Tort Statute, which provides federal jurisdiction for “any civil action by an alien, for a tort only, committed in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States.”

In other words, it allows a foreign national to sue in U.S. courts for violations of U.S. or international law conducted by U.S. citizens overseas. According to CCR, the U.S. Supreme Court has affirmed that ATS is a remedy for serious violations of international law norms that are “widely accepted and clearly defined.”

The complaint was filed in U.S. District Court in Springfield, Mass., where Lively currently resides.

Lively has called for the criminalization of “the public advocacy of homosexuality” as far back as 2007.

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