Massachusetts Federal Judge Michael Ponsor has ruled that a suit filed by Ugandan LGBT activists can proceed against Scott Lively, an American anti-gay hate-monger. The complaint from the group Sexual Minorities Uganda argues that Lively is culpable for crimes against humanity because of his advocacy for persecution, including helping to craft the “Kill the Gays” bill that is still pending consideration in the Ugandan legislature. Ponsor’s decision simply allows the case to proceed, rejecting Lively’s request for a dismissal, but he suggests that there is a credible case to be made the Lively did commit crimes against humanity under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS):
The analysis, therefore, must proceed in two steps: first, was there a violation of an international norm — in this case, as Plaintiff alleges, a recognized crime against humanity committed by Defendant? Second, if so, is the crime against humanity within the limited group of claims for which the ATS furnishes jurisdiction?
The answer to the first question is straightforward and clear. Widespread, systematic persecution of LGBTI people constitutes a crime against humanity that unquestionably violates international norms. A review of applicable authorities makes the answer to the second question easily discernible as well. Aiding and abetting in the commission of a crime against humanity is one of the limited group of international law violations for which the ATS furnishes jurisdiction.
Though Posnor acknowledged that the claims against Lively must be proven with evidence in court, he outlined them as sufficient allegations for the case to continue:
In particular, Plaintiff has set out plausibly that Defendant worked with associates within Uganda to
coordinate, implement, and legitimate “strategies to dehumanize, demonize, silence, and further criminalize the [Ugandan] LGBTI community.” In both 2002 and 2009, as part of this alleged campaign, Defendant met with Ugandan governmental leaders. Defendant’s intentional activities, according to the Amended Complaint, succeeded in intimidating, oppressing, and victimizing the LGBTI community. Indeed, as noted, according to the Amended Complaint Defendant acknowledged that his efforts made him instrumental in detonating “a nuclear bomb against the ‘gay’ agenda in Uganda.”
Lively’s anti-gay rhetoric is some of the most extreme on the planet, exemplified by his conviction that gay people were responsible for the rise of the Nazi Party in Germany.
His worldwide advocacy is not limited to Uganda. Notably — and perhaps unsurprisingly — he has spent extensive time promoting his ideas in Russia. He has not only cheered Russian laws banning “gay propaganda,” but brags that he has toured 50 cities across Russia, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Ukraine, and Belarus lecturing and meeting with government leaders. He describes Russia as a “model for the rest of the world” and takes personal credit for recommending the propaganda laws “to protect the society from being ‘homosexualized.'” Here is how he explained his proposal, which is almost exactly what Russian legislators passed:
[C]riminalize the public advocacy of homosexuality. My philosophy is to leave homosexuals alone if they keep their lifestyle private, and not to force them into therapy if they don’t want it. However, homosexuality is destructive to individuals and to society and it should never publicly promoted. The easiest way to discourage “gay pride” parades and other homosexual advocacy is to make such activity illegal in the interest of public health and morality.
There is no shortage to Lively’s rhetoric nor apparently his influence across the planet demonizing the LGBT community. The advance of this case is an important opportunity to bring his full efforts to light, and possibly afford some justice to those LGBT people who have been persecuted because of his influence.