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Judge Affirms Charges Against Scott Lively, But Dismisses Case on Jurisdictional Grounds

Earlier this week, a U.S. federal court affirmed charges against American anti-LGBTQ exporter of hate Scott Lively, but dismissed the case on jurisdictional grounds. The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), an American organization, filed the lawsuit on behalf of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) in 2012, arguing that Lively should be held accountable for his anti-LGBTQ efforts in Uganda.

In his ruling, Springfield, Massachusetts District Court Judge Michael Ponsor stated, “Anyone reading this memorandum should make no mistake. The question before the court is not whether Defendant’s actions in aiding and abetting efforts to demonize, intimidate, and injure LGBTI people in Uganda constitute violations of international law. They do.”

However, due to a 2013 Supreme Court ruling limiting the extraterritorial reach of the Alien Tort Statute, the judge ultimately concluded that the court did not have jurisdiction in this particular case.

Lively, named as one of HRC’s Exporters of Hate, has built his career as an anti-LGBTQ activist. From Uganda to Russia, he has urged policymakers to create and pass laws that target LGBTQ people. SMUG hoped to use Alien Tort Statute to hold Lively accountable for persecution on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The SMUG v. Lively case made history in 2013 when a federal judge ruled that persecution based on sexual orientation and gender identity is a crime against humanity and that fundamental human rights of LGBTQ people are protected under international law.

Frank Mugisha, Executive Director of SMUG, described the case as a win, explaining, “The court’s ruling recognized the dangers resulting from the hatred that Scott Lively and other extremist Christians from the U.S. have exported to my country. By having a court recognize that persecution of LGBTI people amounts to a crime against humanity, we have already been able to hold Lively to account and reduce his dangerous influence in Uganda.”

HRC commends Frank Mugisha, SMUG and CCR for their efforts to hold Lively accountable for his actions. Read more about HRC Global’s work to combat American Exporters of Hate here.