Bastard. And he owns a coffee shop in Springfield, MA.
On Wednesday, Ugandan L.G.B.T. activists heard news that was exciting even though they had assumed it was inevitable: U.S. District Court Judge Michael Ponsor said that a lawsuit brought by Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) against the anti-gay American pastor Scott Lively over his involvement in the effort to persecute gay people in Uganda can move forward. (Ponsor ruled against Lively’s motion to dismiss the suit.) The activists launched the case last year after months of collecting evidence of Lively’s anti-gay teachings over several of his trips to Uganda since 2002, and of his influence on the conception of the country’s “Kill the Gays” bill.
SMUG is being represented by the Center for Constitutional Rights, of New York, and the suit is based on the Alien Tort Statute, which allows foreigners to file civil lawsuits against Americans for violations of international law. I spent much of last year with Frank Mugisha, who leads SMUG, and wrote about him for the magazine in December. “We want to name and shame the people spreading homophobia here,” Mugisha told me.
Though Lively may have suffered a defeat, at least temporarily, in the United States, he is celebrating events elsewhere. Since as far back as 2006, he has been working to spread his anti-gay message in Russia. In June, the country’s President, Vladimir Putin, signed into law a new ban on “propaganda on nontraditional sexual relationships.” This month, Lively wrote on his Web site that Russia “has just taken the very important and frankly necessary step of criminalizing homosexual propaganda to protect the society from being ‘homosexualzed.’ [sic] This was one of my recommendation [sic] to Russian leaders in my 50-city tour of the former Soviet Union in 2006 and 2007.”
In 2007, Lively wrote an open letter to residents of Russia warning of the threat of the “homosexual agenda,” a phrase he has often used when talking about Uganda. He urged Russians to protect themselves and recommended making illegal the “public advocacy of homosexuality.” (A prohibition on advocacy of homosexuality is a key feature of Uganda’s “Kill the Gays” bill, which originally included a provision that would have made a crime it called aggravated homosexuality punishable by death.) Lively has also had his book, “The Pink Swastika: Homosexuality in the Nazi Party,” translated into Russian and says the Russian-language edition has been well-liked due to the promotional efforts of a colleague, Alexey Ledyaev, the anti-gay pastor of Latvia’s New Generation Church. But while Lively did meet with Russian politicians and conservative religious leaders on the topic of homosexuality, the link between his meetings and the new law is unclear.
I spoke to Lively, who now runs a coffee shop in Springfield, Massachusetts, last winter about his work. Defensive and occasionally belligerent, he said that although the Ugandan politician who introduced the “Kill the Gays” bill had devised a harsh piece of legislation, he clearly “cares for his country.” Insisting that he only cared about preserving the family, he added that he would not recommend the death penalty “even for pedophiles.” In his 2007 letter to Russia, he complained about universities serving as “recruitment centers” for gays and their allies, expressed disgust at L.G.B.T. dating sites and gay sex, and lamented gay-pride parades. The way to prevent more gay-pride parades, he wrote, is to make gay advocacy illegal.
L.G.B.T. Ugandans, who are living in a state in which authorities ban public gay advocacy despite the fact that the country’s anti-gay bill is not law, defied his theory. Not only did they hold their first gay-pride parade last year, a raucous event, but they recently followed up that parade with a second pride event.
These gay “warning signs,” Lively wrote, “are like the smoke from a forest fire. If you wait until you can see the flames from your own house it will be too late.” The same could be said for U.S. anti-gay activists and foreign countries: if you care about L.G.B.T.