Hate On Trial: Anti-Gay Pastor Scott Lively Fights Accusation Of Crimes Against Humanity

"Ugandan officials have been heavily influenced by Western actors,” says LGBT activist Frank Mugisha

In a precent-setting case, Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) has accused Massachusetts pastor Scott Lively of crimes against humanity, claiming he convinced lawmakers in Uganda to pass draconian anti-gay laws.


In multiple trips over a course of a decade, the group maintains, Lively fostered hatred and violence against LGBT Ugandans, who he labeled “brutal savages” and pedophiles. In 2009, the country’s Parliament considered the infamous “Kill the Gays” law, punishing consensual gay sex acts with the death penalty.

Anti-Homosexual activists march on the streets of Kampala carrying placards on August 11, 2014 to demonstrate against the recently annulled Anti-Gay law by Ugandas constitutional court. Ugandas attorney general has filed an appeal against the constitutional courts decision to overturn tough anti-gay laws, his deputy said on August 9. Branded draconian and abominable by rights groups but popular domestically, the six month old law which ruled that homosexuals would be jailed for life was scrapped on a technicality by the constitutional court on August 1. AFP PHOTO/ ISAAC KASAMANI        (Photo credit should read ISAAC KASAMANI/AFP/Getty Images)

A separate measure calling for life imprisonment was passed instead, and while it was struck down on procedural grounds, homosexuality remains illegal in Uganda and members of the LGBT community live in fear of harassment, discrimination, violence and death: Activist David Kato Kisule, often called the first openly gay man in Uganda, was found murdered in his house in 2011.

The Center for Constitutional Rights filed suit on behalf of SMUG in 2012, citing a statute that allows foreign groups to sue American citizens for violations of international law.

“The overwhelming evidence we submitted confirms what we have been saying—that persecution is happening here and Scott Lively worked with other actors in Uganda to deprive us of our fundamental human rights,” says SMUG’s Frank Mugisha.

Frank Mugisha

“The Minister of Ethics says we are ’un-Ugandan’ and influenced by foreign forces, but we have always been here and a part of Ugandan society.”

Mugisha adds that the evidence in the case “shows how Ugandan officials have been heavily influenced by Western actors,” not the other way around.

Lively is attempting to get the case—which he calls “completely frivolous”—thrown out of court. He denies he’s complicit in the suffering of gay and trans Ugandans, blaming LGBT activists for attempting to vilify him.

“There are homosexuals who molest children. That’s just a fact,” he told the Boston Globe. “But I never said that all homosexuals do that.”

Lively admits he preaches against homosexuality, but says he advises therapy, not violence or imprisonment.

A hearing today in U.S. District Court in Springfield will address his request for summary judgment to keep the case from going to trial.

Below, Frank Mugisha discusses the case.

For more on international LGBT rights, visit Logo’s Global Ally page.

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.