Judge Clears Path for Groundbreaking Lawsuit Against Scott Lively
U.S. District Court Judge Michael Posner cleared the path on Wednesday for a groundbreaking lawsuit to proceed against Scott Lively. Lively, president of the virulently anti-gay Abiding Truth Ministries, is being sued by the LGBT rights group Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMU) for his pivotal role in promoting the persecution of LGBT Ugandans.
SMU alleged in its complaint that Lively and his allies “devised and carried out a program of persecution” and “strategies to dehumanize, demonize, silence, and further criminalize” LGBT Ugandans. They are seeking damages, a finding that Lively violated international law and an injunction against future efforts to persecute their organization and community.
Lively is one of the most virulent anti-gay activists on the scene today. He authored the infamous revisionist history The Pink Swastika, which claims that homosexuality was at the root of the Nazi Party and Holocaust. He makes similar claims about the Rwandan genocide. Judge Posner described (pdf) these arguments as “bordering on ludicrous” in his Wednesday ruling.
Lively’s “ludicrous” arguments have had very real — and incredibly destructive — consequences for LGBT Ugandans, and that’s the basis of the lawsuit. SMU is suing, with assistance from the Center for Constitutional Rights, under the Alien Torts Statute, which allows foreign nationals to sue in American courts for violations of international law.
Lively sought to have the case dismissed by arguing (pdf), among other things, that “international norms do not bar persecution based on sexual orientation or gender identity with sufficient clarity and historical lineage” for such persecution to be covered by the Alien Torts Statute. He also claimed by way of a recent Supreme Court ruling that that statute could not pertain to his activities outside the U.S.
Judge Posner dismissed (pdf) these objections, finding that Lively carried out the alleged activities in both the U.S. and Uganda. He also found that the “widespread, systematic persecution of LGBTI people constitutes a crime against humanity that unquestionably violates international norms.”
That is exactly what Lively sought to carry out beginning in 2002 and running through 2009. He based his efforts on his book, Redeeming the Rainbow, in which Posner said he “advocates criminalizing advocacy on behalf of LGBTI people and attributing acts of sexual violence against children to LGBTI individuals’ purported obsession with pedophilia.” He consistently stoked fears among Ugandan parents that gays and lesbians were actively seeking to sexually abuse and “recruit” their children.