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Lawsuit against US evangelist for Uganda 'kill the gays' bill role

Abiding Truth Ministries president Scott Lively accused of being 'man with the plan' in persecution of LGBT Ugandans
Ugandan activist Frank Mugisha claims US evangelist Scott Lively played role in 'kill the gays' bill
Photo by Scott Nunn

Ugandan activists have filed a lawsuit against a US evangelical organization for its role in the internationally condemned 'kill the gays' bill.

Today (14 March), New York-based legal advocacy organization the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) filed a US federal lawsuit against Abiding Truth Ministries president Scott Lively on behalf of gay rights group Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG).

The suit claims Christian evangelist Lively has played a key role in the persecution of Uganda's LGBT community and provides evidence of his role in laying the groundwork for the Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which last month returned to parliament and includes the death penalty and harsh prison terms for gay and lesbian sex.

Frank Mugisha, SMUG executive director, said: 'US evangelical leaders like Scott Lively have actively and intensively worked to eradicate any trace of LGBT advocacy and identity.

'Particularly damaging has been his claim that children are at risk because of our existence.

'His influence has been incredibly harmful and destructive for LGBT Ugandans fighting for their rights.  We have to stop people like Scott Lively from helping to codify and give legal cover to hatred.'

In a statement, SMUG claims Lively has been working with anti-gay forces in Uganda since 2002.

In March 2009, Lively, along with two other U.S. Evangelical leaders, headlined a three-day conference intended to expose the 'gay movement' as an 'evil institution' and a danger to children.

He likened the effects of his actions to a 'nuclear bomb' in Uganda and stated that he hopes it is replicated elsewhere.

'Lively has been the man with the plan in this enterprise,' said Pam Spees, senior staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights. 

'He long ago set out a very specific and detailed methodology for stripping away the most basic  human rights protections, to silence and ultimately disappear LGBT people. Unfortunately, he found willing accomplices and fertile ground in Uganda.'

The 'kill the gays' bill was originally tabled by MP David Bahati in 2009 as a private members bill. It stalled in 2010 but in October 2011, parliament voted to continue discussing it.

The reintroduced bill must once again pass the legal affairs committee for public hearings and discussion before debate in parliament can proceed, a process expected potentially to take at least several months.

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