The executive director the Center for Constitutional Rights today explained some of the Scott Lively story for the readers of the Washington Post. The CCR will represent Sexual Minorities Uganda in their crimes against humanity suit against Lively, which begins Monday in a Massachusetts federal court.
Many Americans have heard of the infamous “Kill the Gays” bill in Uganda, which has been introduced in several parliamentary sessions since it arose out of an anti-gay conference that Scott Lively headlined in 2009. But the day-to-day reality for LGBT Ugandans is already violence, death threats, severe discrimination and oppression. Meetings of LGBT activists are raided and shut down, and advocates have been arrested for exercising their rights to speech, assembly and association. LGBT Ugandans’ advocacy, indeed their existence, is already criminalized.
No one has done more to orchestrate this situation than Scott Lively. Since 2002, he has worked systematically to strip away human rights protections from LGBT people in Uganda and elsewhere around the world, to silence them and make it impossible for them to organize and defend their rights. While he peddles the usual, age-old lie that LGBT people are pedophiles in order to deliberately provoke the rage that feeds the growing repression and violence, he combines that myth with a new twist, that gays were also responsible for the Holocaust and that Hitler’s Germany is what can happen when a gay movement grows unchecked.
But this case isn’t simply about Lively’s “hate preach.” He long ago moved beyond “mere” hatemongering when he became a kind of persecution consultant, strategizing with influential leaders and cohorts in other countries about ways to further silence and remove LGBT people from basic protections of the law, in particular by criminalizing their advocacy. Persecution, defined as the “severe deprivation of fundamental rights” on the basis of identity, is a crime under international law; to be exact, it’s a “crime against humanity.” This deprivation of fundamental rights of LGBT communities is exactly what Lively aims to bring about. Under U.S. law, foreign citizens who are the victims of crimes against humanity can sue American perpetrators of such crimes. And so Sexual Minorities of Uganda (SMUG) is suing Scott Lively for persecuting them. Staff from SMUG and other LGBT advocates who have suffered persecution –arrests, raids, and other severe deprivations of basic rights –will be there on Monday, when the Center for Constitutional Rights will have the honor of representing them in court.