Crimes Against Humanity Lawsuit Against Anti-Gay Evangelical Leader Will Move Forward
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — In an order issued today by Springfield, Mass. Federal Court Judge, Michael Ponsor, defendant Scott Lively’s motion to dismiss was “denied.” The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) filed the case on March 14, 2012 on behalf of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), a non-profit LGBT advocacy group in Uganda. Lively has been charged with persecution on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, and now this historic case will move forward.
Scott Lively is the notorious U.S. anti-gay extremist leader of the Abiding Truth Ministries now living in Springfield who owns the Holy Grounds Coffee House located at 455 State Street. Since 2002, Scott Lively has been partnering with the key political and religious leaders of the anti-gay campaign in Uganda, advising anti-gay parliamentarians on legislation targeting the LGBT community and leading conferences about the supposed threats posed by the gay movement. The Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009 (also know as the “Kill the Gays Bill”) was introduced in the Ugandan parliament a month after Lively held meetings and gave a series of lectures asserting that the gay movement in Uganda was “evil” and organized with the purpose of “homosexualizing” children. As in Uganda, Lively has also worked closely with anti-gay leaders and politicians in Russia, Latvia and Moldova, advising them on legislation intended to criminalize any form of LGBT advocacy. [pullquote]Lively has been charged with persecution on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, and now this historic case will move forward. [/pullquote]
According to the Center for Constitutional Rights, “This lawsuit alleges that Lively’s 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, which is the definition of persecution under international law and is deemed a crime against humanity. This effort bore fruit most notably in the introduction of the notorious Anti-Homosexuality Bill (aka the Kill the Gays bill), which Lively helped engineer.” For more information, visit CCR’s case page. [pullquote]“Widespread, systematic persecution of LGBTI people constitutes a crime against humanity that unquestionably violates international norms,” said Judge Michael Ponsor.[/pullquote]
“Widespread, systematic persecution of LGBTI people constitutes a crime against humanity that unquestionably violates international norms,” said Judge Michael Ponsor. “The history and current existence of discrimination against LGBTI people is precisely what qualifies them as a distinct targeted group eligible for protection under international law. The fact that a group continues to be vulnerable to widespread, systematic persecution in some parts of the world simply cannot shield one who commits a crime against humanity from liability.”
CCR Attorney, Pam Spees, remarked, “We are gratified that the court recognized the persecution and the gravity of the danger faced by our clients as a result of Scott Lively’s actions. Lively’s single-minded campaign has worked to criminalize their very existence, strip away their fundamental rights and threaten their physical safety.” Holly Richardson, from Springfield’s only LGBTQ youth organization, Out Now added, “This is such an important decision for LGBTQI youth from Springfield, MA to Uganda, to Russia, where the most recent repressive anti-gay laws have been pushed forward. We must continue to learn about and fight for our rights here at home, and in solidarity with those abroad. Scott Lively is the prime example of the connection to the local/international work.”
The Stop the Hate and Homophobia Coalition was formed in January 2011 upon learning that Scott Lively was living and ministering in Springfield. The coalition deplores hateful messages and actions, and calls for community education about the impact of homophobia on our communities, as well as calling for community leaders, neighbors, co-workers, family members, etc. to speak out against homophobia whenever it is perpetrated. The coalition involves: Arise for Social Justice, Out Now, the LGBT Coalition of Western MA, GetEQUAL MA, Truth Wins Out; as well as local college professors, students, members of the faith community and individual community members.
[From a News Release]