US court: Lawsuit accusing anti-gay evangelist Scott Lively of human rights violation must go ahead
A judge denied the request of a US evangelist preacher accused of human rights violations for his support of the Ugandan ‘Kill the Gays’ bill, to have the case against him dismissed.
The ruling by Judge Michael Ponsor, means the persecution of people based on sexual orientation or gender identity is considered a crime against humanity, and that the fundamental human rights of LGBT people are protected by international law.
“Widespread, systematic persecution of LGBTI people constitutes a crime against humanity that unquestionably violates international norms,” said Judge Ponsor.
“The history and current existence of discrimination against LGBTI people is precisely what qualifies them as a distinct targeted group eligible for protection under international law. The fact that a group continues to be vulnerable to widespread, systematic persecution in some parts of the world simply cannot shield one who commits a crime against humanity from liability.”
The ruling was made in the lawsuit brought against Lively by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) on behalf of Sexual Minorities Uganda, a coalition of LGBT rights and advocacy groups.
This week’s ruling means the lawsuit can move forward.
“Today’s ruling is a significant victory for human rights everywhere but most especially for LGBTI Ugandans who are seeking accountability from those orchestrating our persecution,” said Frank Mugisha, the director of Sexual Minorities Uganda.
CCR Attorney Pam Spees said: “We are gratified that the court recognized the persecution and the gravity of the danger faced by our clients as a result of Scott Lively’s actions. Lively’s single-minded campaign has worked to criminalize their very existence, strip away their fundamental rights and threaten their physical safety.”
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As well as Uganda, Lively has been active in countries such as Russia. There is an international outcry against anti-gay laws introduced in June, one of which bans homosexual “propaganda”.
US law now allows foreign citizens to sue for violations of international law, within US federal courts. The Alien Tort Statute allows such lawsuits to be heard.
The anti-gay preacher, recently claimed that he did not attend a debate on gay parenting at the Oxford Union because organisers of the event “failed to correct” an administrative error meaning his flight was booked for the wrong day.