International Law

Suit Alleges Evangelist Violated International Law by Waging an Anti-Gay Campaign in Uganda


A Massachusetts evangelist is being accused of violating international law by preaching against the “evil” gay movement in Uganda.

The Center for Constitutional Rights filed the suit on behalf of a gay rights group called Sexual Minorities Uganda, according to the New York Times, MSNBC.com and a press release. Filed under the Alien Tort Statute, the suit (PDF) alleges evangelist Scott Lively participated in a decade-long campaign in Uganda to persecute persons on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The suit claims Lively’s call to fight an “evil” and “pedophilic” gay movement “ignited a cultural panic and atmosphere of terror.” The complaint cites a bill introduced in the legislature that would impose the death penalty after a second conviction for having consensual gay sex.

Lively, who runs the Holy Grounds Coffee House in Springfield, has written a book that claims gays were the inspiration for Nazism, the Times says. He told the newspaper that the suit is “about as ridiculous as it gets. I’ve never done anything in Uganda except preach the Gospel and speak my opinion about the homosexual issue.” He told MSNBC.com that his words were being taken out of context, and he advocates therapy, rather than punishment, for gays.

Lawyer Pamela Spees represents Sexual Minorities Uganda. She said the suit targets Lively’s actions, rather than his beliefs. “It’s based on his conduct,” she said. “Belief is one thing, but actively trying to harm and deprive other people of their rights is the definition of persecution.”

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