SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — A federal judge has refused to dismiss an international lawsuit filed by a Ugandan homosexual activist group, which accuses an American pastor of committing ‘crimes against humanity’ for speaking out against homosexual behavior in the country.
As previously reported, Massachusetts Pastor Scott Lively, the author of “The Pink Swastika,” had visited the nation of Uganda in 2009, where he spoke on what the Bible says about homosexuality and expressed support of pastors in the country that were working to oppose the proliferation of sexual activity between those of the same gender.
Following his visit, the group Sexual Minorities of Uganda (SMUG), filed a lawsuit against Lively, asserting that he had violated international law because his words allegedly encouraged government persecution against homosexuals in the nation. He was sued under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS), which allows individuals from foreign nations to file federal complaints against U.S. citizens who have committed torts overseas.
“That’s about as ridiculous as it gets,” Lively told the New York Times. “I’ve never done anything in Uganda except preach the Gospel and speak my opinion about the homosexual issue.”
“ATS is not a blanket delegation of lawmaking to the democratically unaccountable international community,” said Mat Staver, founder of Liberty Council, which is representing the evangelical pastor. “Like all American citizens, Lively enjoys a fundamental First Amendment right to engage in nonviolent political discourse anywhere in the world.”
In January of this year, Senior Litigation Counsel Harry Mihet and General Counsel Steve Crampton asked District Judge Michael A. Ponsor to throw out the case. SMUG is being represented by a group funded by George Soros.
However, now eight months later, Ponsor has issued his decision, refusing to dismiss the lawsuit.
“He has allegedly supported and actively participated in worldwide initiatives, with a substantial focus on Uganda, aimed at repressing free expression by LGBTI groups, destroying the organizations that support them, intimidating LGBTI individuals, and even criminalizing the very status of being lesbian or gay,” he wrote in his 79-page ruling.
Ponsor, appointed by Bill Clinton in 1994, reportedly said that Ugandan representatives were “co-conspirators” with Lively, and that to some, standing against the proliferation of homosexuality “constitutes a crime against humanity that violates international norms.” However, he advised that it is too soon to say whether Lively actually violated any American law.
Lively’s attorney, Harry Mihet, issued a brief statement in response to Ponsor’s decision, remarking that the case should not have been permitted to proceed.
“We are disappointed with the decision because we believe SMUG’s claims are firmly foreclosed, not only by the First Amendment right to free speech, but also by the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Kiobel, which eliminated Alien Tort Statute claims for events that allegedly occurred in foreign nations,” he said. “We are still reviewing the court’s ruling, and will continue to vigorously defend Mr. Lively’s constitutional rights, with confidence that he will ultimately be vindicated.”
The case will now move forward in federal court.
In addition to serving as an attorney, author and pastor, Lively assists the homeless and drug addicts of his community and helps them to find freedom from their chains through the power of Jesus Christ.