On March 14, a group of Ugandan LGBT activists filed suit in federal court in Massachusetts against evangelist preacher Scott Lively, who is the founder of the Springfield-based Abiding Truth Ministries. The group, Sexual Minorities Uganda, is accusing Lively of violating international law by inciting the persecution of LGBT people in Uganda. It is suing Lively under the alien tort statute, which permits foreigners to sue in American courts when the allegations involve the violation of international law.
MassEquality Executive Director Kara Suffredini issued the following statement in response to the lawsuit:
“Scott Lively can claim that he has not harmed anyone by speaking out against LGBT people in Uganda, but that does not make it true. In 2009, he traveled to Uganda and preached that gay people sodomize children. After Lively’s appearance, the Ugandan parliament proposed a bill imposing the death penality on gay Ugandans. The most recent Human Rights Report on Uganda from the State Department notes that Uganda is known for engaging in ‘serious human rights abuses’ which include acts of ‘violence and discrimination’ against LGBT people. To travel to Uganda and slander LGBT people is to incite grave violence against them. Lively’s words and actions are dramatically inconsistent with the values of the great Commonwealth in which he lives and a shameful disgrace to our country. He should be held accountable.
“Last week, the Southern Poverty Law Center issued a report documenting a sharp increase in the existence of organized hate groups in 2011, including those motivated by anti-LGBT bias. ‘The Year in Hate and Extremism: 2011’ notes that the number of anti-LGBT hate groups in the United States rose to 27 in 2011 from 17 in 2010. One of those hate groups named by the Southern Poverty Law Center is Lively’s Abiding Truth Ministries. It is disturbing, to say the least, that such a group is based in Massachusetts, where our public values fairness, dignity, and opportunity for all. MassEquality is working in partnership with the Federal Bureau of Investigation to address hate and bias crimes in the Commonwealth as a member of the Boston Division’s Multi-Cultural Advisory Committee, a group made up of representatives from Arab, Muslim, Jewish, Somali, Latino, Sikh, African American, and Latino groups, among many others.
“MassEquality sends prayers for strength to LGBT people in Uganda and hopes of success to Ugandan LGBT activists in their efforts to bring some measure of justice for those harmed by Lively and others who traffic in anti-LGBT hate.”