Quotes by TRT Staff —
This morning in Springfield Federal Court, attorneys from the Center for Constitutional Rights, NYC, filed a federal lawsuit against Abiding Truth Ministries President Scott Lively. The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) filed the case on behalf of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), a non-profit LGBT advocacy group in Uganda. Lively is being charged with persecution on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
According to The New York Times‘ phone interview with Lively, he had “not been served with the papers” and knew nothing about it. He told the daily that the lawsuit was “ridiculous” and that there was no basis for it since all he had done was “preach the Gospel and speak his opinion.”
The Stop the Hate and Homophobia Coalition will hold a press conference outside the Federal Courthouse at 1:30 (300 State Street), where Attorney Pam Spees, CCR, is scheduled to speak about the charges. Additional speakers include: Former City Councilor, Amaad Rivera; Out Now Community Organizer, Chiino Rios; Arise for Social Justice, Community Organizer, Michaelann Bewsee; Director of Communications and Development, Truth Wins Out, John Becker; and Christ’s Community Church, Reverend Charla Kouadio.
After the press conference, the Stop the Hate and Homophobia Coalition will march in a symbolic funeral procession up the street to Scott Lively’s coffee house/church, located at 455 State Street. Organizers will carry coffins and posters of the names of Ugandans who have died and who have experienced violence as a result of homophobic hate incited by American Evangelicals.
The march and procession were prompted after increase hatred and the reintroduction of the Anti-Homosexually Bill (AHB), a.k.a. “Kill the Gays Bill” in Uganda, which continues to include the death penalty for “homosexual acts,” stated Out Now, Arise for Social Justice officials.
“This protest is different in that we are taking a somber approach in our protest tactic, and in our respect for those whom have been victims of violence, and/or forced to hide or flee for their safety,” said Holly Richardson, Executive Director, Out Now, Arise for Social Justice.
Commonly known as the “Kill the Gays Bill,” the bill provides the death penalty for a second conviction of consensual sex between gay adult. It also seeks prison sentences for people, including family members, clergy, counselors and others, who fail to report to the authorities anyone they suspect of being gay. Lively’s messaging, the organization stated, is reflected in many of the bill’s provisions, particularly those that would criminalize LGBT rights advocacy and association. After being shelved amid an international outcry and a grassroots response in Uganda led by Sexual Minorities Uganda, the bill was reintroduced to the Ugandan parliament last month. 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.
According information sent out by Out Now, Arise for Social Justice and GetEQUAL MA, the American evangelical Christians played a role in stirring the anti-homosexual sentiment that culminated in the initial AHB legislation in Uganda and continues to heighten homophobia in the country today.
The Stop The Hate & Homophobia Coalition had an action against Scott Lively on November 18, 2011 to help educate the people of Springfield, MA about just who Scott lively is. The march today at 1:30 p.m. is a continuation of that action.
“It is more serious in that the stakes have been raised as the Ugandan government is currently behaving as if the law has already passed (as evidenced by their raiding the conference and their posturing that Western interference is more reason to pass the bill); also in the choice of tactic – marching in black, silent, carrying flowers for those whom have been victims of violence or forced to hide or flee Uganda, and anywhere else due to homophobic violence,” Richardson added.
National solidarity actions also are scheduled for Kansas City, Washington DC, and Sacramento.
Other local organizations involved in the protest, Arise for Social Justice, Out Now, the LGBT Coalition of Western MA, GetEQUAL MA, join the Impact MA, Truth Wins Out, the Springfield College GSA, Western New England University GSA and a variety of local college professors, and members of the local faith community, as well as individual community members, will continue to advocate against the hate and homophobia Scott Lively and others promote until they stop. They also expect a reaction from Lively’s followers.
“We expect a counter protest,” said Richardson. “[That is why] I would suggest people turn out for this one as I believe it will be important.”
The Stop the Hate and Homophobia Coalition was formed in January 2011 upon learning that Scott Lively was living and ministering in Springfield. Lively is president of the Abiding Truth Ministries, which has been classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, and he has been running the Holy Grounds Coffee House on State Street, right near Commerce High School. 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 a number of community-based organizations, local college professors and students, members of the faith community and individual community members.