SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — A federal judge has dismissed an international lawsuit filed by an African homosexual activist group, which accused an American pastor of committing “crimes against humanity” for speaking out against homosexual behavior in the country.
U.S. District Judge Michael Ponsor, appointed to the bench by then-President Bill Clinton, issued an order on Monday declaring that the matter lacked the jurisdiction of a U.S. court.
Throughout his conclusion, however, he repeatedly blasted Scott Lively, author of “The Pink Swastika,” as aiding and abetting “a vicious and frightening campaign of repression” against homosexuals, and characterized his writings as “crackpot bigotry.” Lively denies the allegation as being without substantiation and as giving “the left fodder for propaganda.”
“[D]iscovery confirmed the nature of Defendant’s, on one hand, vicious and, on the other hand, ludicrously extreme animus against LGBTI people and his determination to assist in persecuting them wherever they are, including Uganda,” Ponsor wrote.
“The evidence of record demonstrates that Defendant aided and abetted efforts 1) to restrict freedom of expression by members of the LGBTI community in Uganda 2) to suppress their civil rights, and 3) to make the very existence of LGBTI people in Uganda a crime,” he asserted.
As previously reported, Lively 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 who were working to oppose the proliferation of sexual activity between those of the same sex.
In 2012, 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 and created a “climate of hate.” The group also alleged that Lively was a part of a “conspiracy” to deprive homosexuals of their rights.
“U.S. evangelical leaders like Scott Lively have actively and intensively worked to eradicate any trace of LGBT advocacy and identity,” said Executive Director Frank Mugisha. “His influence has been incredibly harmful and destructive for LGBT Ugandans fighting for their rights. We have to stop people like Scott Lively from helping to codify and give legal cover to hatred.”
The group claimed that because Lively had spoken at a conference in Uganda just over a month before lawmakers proposed a bill to criminalize homosexual behavior in the country, he was partly responsible for influencing the government.
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 bill was signed into law by President Yoweri Museveni in 2012, but later struck down by Uganda’s Constitutional Court. SMUG noted in its lawsuit that Lively had distanced himself from the bill’s proposed death penalty, but claimed he only did so “half-heartedly.”
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.”
Last year, attorneys for Lively filed for summary judgment in seeking dismissal of the legal challenge, and the request was granted this week, but only due to a lack of jurisdiction and not on the merits of the case.
SMUG therefore considered Monday’s ruling a victory despite the dismissal because of Ponsor’s conclusion that Lively had encouraged persecution of homosexuals.
“The court’s ruling recognized the dangers resulting from the hatred that Scott Lively and other extremist Christians from the U.S. have exported to my country,” Mugisha said. “By having a court recognize that persecution of LGBTI people amounts to a crime against humanity, we have already been able to hold Lively to account and reduce his dangerous influence in Uganda.”
Lively, while denying any promotion of hatred or harm against homosexuals, expressed satisfaction that the case is now closed.
“I thank God for His deliverance from this outrageous and malicious litigation, designed solely to silence my voice for Biblical truth on LGBT issues and to cause me pain and suffering for daring to speak against the ‘gay’ agenda,” he wrote in a statement.
“What I did was tell the documented truth about the history and tactics of the ‘gay’ political movement, and urge a compassionate Biblical response, emphasizing rehabilitation and prevention for LGBT sufferers,” Lively continued. “That is all I have ever done in almost 30 years as a missionary to the global pro-family movement.”
“No hatred. No advocacy of violence. No invasions of personal privacy. Just an insistence that homosexuality be denied normalization in the mainstream of society in favor of the natural family.”