Appeals court: ‘Crimes against humanity’ case against Scott Lively can proceed

BOSTON — A federal appeals court has rejected a petition by anti-gay activist Scott Lively to dismiss a complaint that alleges he violated U.S. law by influencing the laws of a foreign country.

Scott Lively
Scott Lively

In a first-of-its-kind case, advocacy organizations Sexual Minorities of Uganda (SMUG) and the Center for Constitutional Rights filed a lawsuit against Lively in 2012, charging him for “crimes against humanity” and for “helping spread propaganda and violence” in Uganda.

In August 2013, a federal judge ruled that the suit against Lively had merit and could proceed.

Last week, a three-judge panel of the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston ruled against Lively’s motion to dismiss the complaint, meaning the case will proceed in federal court, reports Mass Live.

It is the first know case to cite the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) seeking accountability for persecution on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The statute is a federal law first adopted in 1789 that gives the federal courts jurisdiction to hear lawsuits filed by non-U.S. citizens for torts committed in violation of international law.

Since 1980, the ATS has been used successfully in cases involving torture, state-sponsored sexual violence, extrajudicial killing, crimes against humanity, war crimes and arbitrary detention.

The lawsuit against Lively alleges that his actions over the past decade, in collaboration with key Ugandan government officials and religious leaders, are responsible for depriving LGBTI Ugandans of their fundamental human rights based solely on their identity.

This effort resulted in, most notably, the introduction and eventual passage of the notorious Anti-Homosexuality Bill — widely know at the “Kill the Gays” bill — which Lively allegedly helped engineer.

The law was overturned in August on a technicality, but Uganda lawmakers have drafted a new anti-gay bill that could be introduced for debate in the country’s parliament before Christmas.

The suit also alleges Lively encouraged government-backed acts of violence against gays in Uganda as a result of his anti-gay rhetoric, specifically remarks he made when addressing members of the nation’s parliament in 2009.

Lively is also alleged to have been active in countries like Russia where a law criminalizing gay rights advocacy was signed into law by President Vladimir Putin.

In 2007, Lively toured 50 cities in Russia, where he reportedly recommended many of the measures that are now law.

In Sept. 2013, Lively told NBC News, “Yes, I think I influenced the Russian law,” referring to the law banning the “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations to minors.”

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