by Mike Andrew -
SGN Staff Writer
A Ugandan LGBT rights group filed a federal suit on March 14 against right-wing U.S. evangelist Scott Lively.
Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), the group associated with murdered Gay activist David Kato, accused Lively of violating international law by inciting persecution of LGBT people in Uganda.
SMUG filed suit under the so-called 'alien tort statute,' which allows foreigners to sue in U.S. courts in situations alleging the violation of international law.
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.
SMUG's suit claims that Lively's actions resulted in the persecution, arrest, torture, and murder of LGBT people in Uganda, and the introduction of the notorious 'Kill the Gays' bill.
In 2009, the Ugandan legislature considered a bill proposed by one of Lively's Ugandan associates, David Bahati, that would have imposed the death sentence for 'repeat offender' Gays.
That bill was at first withdrawn after an outcry from the United States and European nations that are major aid donors to Uganda, but a revised bill was reintroduced in February.
The lawsuit names Bahati and three other Ugandan co-conspirators: Stephen Langa and Martin Ssempa, evangelists active in the anti-Gay movement; and James Buturo, the former minister of ethics and a proponent of the legislation.
Lively is the founder and president of Abiding Truth Ministries, a former director of the American Family Association, and a co-founder of Watchmen on the Walls, all of which have been listed as 'hate groups' by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
He is also the author of The Pink Swastika: Homosexuality in the Nazi Party, which claims that Nazism was a movement inspired by Gays, and Seven Steps to Recruit-Proof Your Child, a guide for parents to prevent what he calls indoctrination by Gays.
Pamela C. Spees, the lawyer for SMUG, works with the Center for Constitutional Rights, a legal advocacy group based in New York City.
Spees said that since Uganda's LGBT community has so little support, the lawsuit 'brings the fight' to those in the U.S. who have fomented anti-Gay legislation in Uganda.
She says that the lawsuit targets Lively's actions, not his religious speech or beliefs.
'This is not just based on his speech. It's based on his conduct,' she said. 'Belief is one thing, but actively trying to harm and deprive other people of their rights is the definition of persecution.'
Lively is one of many conservative American evangelicals who have been active in Uganda and have influenced Ugandan government figures. Spees said the lawsuit singles him out because 'his role was critical.'
Frank Mugisha, a SMUG leader, said in a conference call with reporters that before Lively's visit to Uganda in 2009, LGBT people were 'looked at as different,' but that 'no one bothered them.'
But after Lively's meetings with Ugandan religious and political leaders, 'People were being reported to the police as homosexuals, were thrown out by their families, or thrown out by the church,' Mugisha added.
Lively told reporters by phone said he had not been served and did not know about the lawsuit.
'That's about as ridiculous as it gets,' he said. 'I've never done anything in Uganda except preach the Gospel and speak my opinion about the homosexual issue. There's actually no grounds for litigation on this.'