SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — A nationally-recognized religious liberties organization is seeking the dismissal of an international lawsuit filed by an African 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, 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.
Several years 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. The group also alleges that Lively was a part of a “conspiracy” to deprive homosexuals of their rights.
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 in 2013. “I’ve never done anything in Uganda except preach the Gospel and speak my opinion about the homosexual issue.”
Lawmakers in Uganda had been working to criminalize homosexual behavior in the country during the time of the lawsuit, and had been under intense international pressure to back down from their efforts. However, religious groups in Uganda urged parliament to pass legislation to protect social and personal morality in the nation.
The most controversial aspect of the legislation required life imprisonment for those who engage in “aggravated homosexuality,” meaning those who intentionally spread the HIV virus, commit homosexual pedophilia, or repeatedly engage in sex acts with those of the same gender.
The legislation was signed into law by President Yoweri Museveni, but later struck down by Uganda’s Constitutional Court.
Lively’s case, which came three years after his visit to the nation, has been in the courts for the past four years, and last week, attorneys for Lively filed for summary judgment in seeking dismissal of the matter.
“Lively specifically objected to Ugandan attempts to enact laws that were, in Lively’s views, abhorrently harsh,” the motion, filed by the Florida-based group Liberty Counsel, reads. “Therefore, nothing in the record provides any evidence that Lively’s ‘sole’ and ‘immediate’ objective was violence to or abuse of LGBTI Ugandans.”
“The suit is an attempt to silence Pastor Scott Lively because of his speech about homosexuality and pornography. The implications of this suit are frightening because SMUG is trying to punish a U.S. citizen for constitutionally protected speech under some vague and undefined international law,” Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver said in a statement.
“From the beginning this case had no merit, but we have had to spend four years and countless hours defending an innocent pastor against a lawsuit designed only to intimidate,” he remarked. “This case is a direct assault on the supremacy of the United States Constitution.”