A organization of homosexuals in Uganda, with the help of what the New York Times calls a “liberal legal advocacy” team, has sued an American evangelist over his biblically based religious beliefs that homosexuality is a sin, and his statements about his beliefs.
“I am an American citizen [being targeted] over the persecution of homosexuals as they define it as a crime against humanity – for speaking the truth of the Bible in a foreign country,” Scott Lively, of Abiding Truth Ministries, told WND today after he found out about the legal action.
He said the definition of “crime against humanity” comes from European progressives, and the accusations appear to be based on his speeches and writings about the Bible’s perspective on homosexuality.
The lawsuit, signed by attorney Luke Ryan and Pamela Spees, whose admission to the court for the purpose of the lawsuit is pending, demands compensatory damages, punitive damages, exemplary damages, attorneys’ fees and a ruling that Lively’s conduct “was in violation of the law of nations.”
Spees is with the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York.
It was filed on behalf of the “Sexual Minorities Uganda,” or SMUG, alleging Lively has “waged, in coordination with his Ugandan counterparts,” a campaign “to persecute persons on the basis of their gender and/or sexual orientation and gender identity.”
It says “persecution is defined in international law as the ‘intentional and severe deprivation of fundamental rights contrary to international law by reason of the identity of the group or collectivity.’”
The New York lawyers claim Lively contributed to a “conspiracy to persecute LGBTT persons in Uganda.”
Because of Lively, Ryan and Spees allege, their clients live in “persistent fear of harassment, arbitrary arrest and physical harm, including death.”
The lawyers say Lively “and co-conspirators, [Ugandans Stephen} Langa, [Martin] Ssempa, Minister of Ethics and Integrity James Buturo and Member of Parliament David Bahail coordinated a dramatic, far-reaching” campaign.
“Frankly, I don’t this is actionable,” Lively told WND. “They make it clear that this suit is … premised on speeches or writings.
“I spoke to members of parliament in their assembly hall, and advised them to focus on therapy and not punishment [for homosexuality],” he said.
“What they’re suggesting here is that the duly elected legislative representatives of Uganda, the cream of Ugandan society, cannot be responsible for their own [legislative] actions – that they adopted legislation because a white evangelical came and said something to them,” he said.
Among the issues raised is the Ugandan legislature’s consideration of a proposal for the death penalty for homosexuality.
“As … you know,” Lively said. “I opposed the death penalty provision of the Ugandan bill from the beginning. … It is a baseless charge for which they have not a shred of proof, but in any case advocacy for legislation is speech.”
“Mostly, the lawsuit is a rehash of the argument the left has made from the beginning that my preaching against homosexuality in Uganda is the cause of persecution of homosexuals in that country. It offers a lot of out-of-context comments from my 2009 seminar in Kompala, and includes the murder of David Kato as the most egregious example of the supposed negative consequences of my speech. The claim omits the fact that a male prostitute whom Kato had bailed out of jail to be his live-in lover confessed to bashing in Katos head with a hammer for failing to pay him as promised and was prosecuted for the crime,” Lively said.
The lawsuit cites Lively’s visits to Uganda in 2002 to campaign against pornography at a conference to illustrate his responsibility for subsequent violence, as well as the Ugandan proposal to make illegal the publishing of pornography for the purpose of promoting homosexuality.
It claims Lively “entered into an unlawful agreement …. knowing that the goal of the conspiracy was to severely deprive persons of fundamental rights on the basis of their gender and/or sexual orientation and gender identity and intended to help accomplish that end.”
The law cited by the case, an alien tort statute, lets nonresidents sue in the U.S. when they allege international law violations.
Spees alleged in an interview with the Times that the case is based on Lively’s conduct, not Lively’s speech. Cited in the case are a multitude of Lively’s comments and statements.