On Monday, a federal court judge will hear arguments in Scott Lively’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit filed against him by Sexual Minorities Uganda, or SMUG.
Last March, lawyers for the Center for Constitutional Rights filed the suit on SMUG’s behalf, singling out Lively for “ the decade-long campaign he has waged, in agreement and coordination with his Ugandan counterparts, to persecute persons on the basis of their gender and/or sexual orientation and gender identity.”
Lively, an evangelical minister who was born in Shelburne Falls and settled in Springfield a few years ago, has made his name speaking out against what he calls the “homosexual agenda.” He’s the author of a book called The Pink Swastika, which argues that the Nazis were dominated by homosexuals; in a Daily Show interview a couple of years ago, Lively asserted that Hitler relied on gay men, recognizing that they were more “savage” than “natural men.” He gained particular notoriety in 2009 after traveling, with other American ministers, to speak at an anti-gay conference in Uganda, where the government has considered a bill that would criminalize homosexuality, imposing, in some cases, the death penalty. Lively has said he does not support that measure, calling it “unacceptably harsh.”
According to SMUG’s complaint: “In very large part due to defendant LIVELY’s contributions to the conspiracy to persecute LGBTI persons in Uganda, plaintiff SEXUAL MINORITIES UGANDA, as an entity, as well as its individual staff-members and member organizations, have suffered severe deprivations of fundamental rights. Their very existence has been criminalized and their physical safety threatened through a coordinated campaign, which LIVELY has largely initiated, instigated and directed, to strip way basic fundamental rights from people on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity and those who advocate on their behalf.”
Lively has called the lawsuit’s contentions “outrageous” and filled with “bald-faced lies.” On his blog, he wrote, “This alleged conspiracy is simply absurd, implying that my speech and writings about homosexuality overpowered the intelligence and independence of the entire government and population of Uganda, bending them to my supposedly nefarious will. It is a breathtakingly insulting and racist premise.”
Lively is represented by the conservative Liberty Counsel, which argues, among other things, that Lively’s public positions on homosexuality amount of “non-violent political speech” protected under the First Amendment.
A hearing on Lively’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit will be held on Jan. 7 at 11 a.m. at the federal courthouse in Springfield. At 10 a.m., members and supporters of the Stop the Hate and Homophobia Coalition will gather outside the courthouse, holding signs and distributing information about the case.