On Monday, Scott Lively will tell a federal court why he supports Uganda's extreme persecution of gays and lesbians.
The U.S. evangelist and anti-gay crusader's trial begins Jan. 7 in Massachusetts. Lively is being sued for crimes against humanity by the organization Sexual Minorities of Uganda, represented by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR).
The suit alleges that Lively’s involvement in anti-gay efforts in Uganda, including his active participation in a conspiracy to strip away fundamental rights from LGBT persons constitutes persecution. This is the first known Alien Tort Statute (ATS) case seeking accountability for persecution on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.
The ATS allows suits to be brought to American courts by non-U.S. citizens who claim to be victims of violations of international law (such as crimes against humanity) perpetrated outside the U.S.
While Lively's name may not be familiar to the majority of Americans, he is known to those fighting for LGBT rights in Uganda. According to the New York Times, the suit against Lively alleges that he "conspired with religious and political leaders in Uganda to whip up anti-gay hysteria with warnings that gay people would sodomize African children and corrupt their culture." Vince Warren, executive director of the CCR, argues in a Washington Post blog that Lively calls himself the "'father' of the anti-gay movements" in Uganda.
In 2009, the African nation considered enacting a bill, referred to by some as the "Kill the Gays" bill, that would have imposed the death sentence on active homosexuals living with HIV or in cases of same-sex rape, per the Times. As part of the bill, an undefined category of "serial offenders" would also be eligible for death. The Times notes that one of Lively's Ugandan contacts proposed the bill.
Uganda's "Kill the Gays" bill was initially dropped after an international outcry but was reintroduced in February 2012. It is possible that this new version of the bill may nix the capital punishment clause, according to The Times. Lively voiced his support for the revision on his blog, writing, "Since the alternative to passing this bill is to allow the continuing, rapid, foreigner-driven homosexualization of Ugandan culture, I am giving the revised Anti Homosexuality Bill my support."
In an interview with Current TV in 2010, Lively was reluctant to back the death penalty aspect of the bill, but he said the situation was a tough one.
"People like myself are stuck," Lively said. "Am I going to endorse something that goes too far to protect the whole society?"
In that interview, Lively also called Uganda a faithfully Christian country, and virulently anti-gay pastor Martin Ssempa a friend and a "good man."
Ssempa, working as the leader of the Makerere Community Church in Uganda's capital city of Kampala, is known for sensationalist tactics against the LGBT community, including repeating the discredited myth that homosexuality is tied to pedophilia. Ssempa has also reportedly screened hardcore gay pornography at churches and conferences in Uganda.
Lively previously drew the ire of organizations like the Southern Poverty Law Center for co-authoring a book titled The Pink Swastika, published in 1995. In it, Lively argued that some of Hitler's closest advisers were gay, and that they helped mastermind the Holocaust.
"While we cannot say that homosexuals caused the Holocaust, we must not ignore their central role in Nazism," write Lively and co-author Kevin Abrams. "To the myth of the 'pink triangle' — the notion that all homosexuals in Nazi Germany were persecuted — we must respond with the reality of the 'pink swastika.'"