Yesterday, TWO’s John Becker traveled to Springfield, Massachusetts to represent Truth Wins Out in an action directed against notorious anti-LGBT extremist Scott Lively. The action, which has been covered by numerous media outlets including the New York Times and the UK’s Guardian, was conducted by groups that included Springfield’s Stop the Hate and Homophobia Coalition, GetEQUAL MA, Join the Impact MA, Out Now, Arise for Social Justice, and TWO. It coincided with a federal lawsuit filed yesterday by the Center for Constitutional Rights over Lively’s role in the ongoing persecution of LGBT people in Uganda; attorneys and representatives from CCR were also in attendance.
As virulently homophobic bigots go, Scott Lively is the worst of the worst. His organization, Abiding Truth Ministries, is certified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an anti-gay hate group. His inflammatory writings include The Pink Swastika — a book that outrageously claims that gay people helped to bring Nazism to Germany and mastermind the Holocaust — and his latest volume, Seven Steps to Recruit-Proof Your Child, which purports to help parents take steps to ensure their children won’t be gay by preventing so-called “pro-homosexual indoctrination.”
Lively is a general in the global war on LGBT people, traveling the world and slandering gay people in countries as far-flung as Moldova, Latvia, Uganda, and Russia. In March 2009, he was one of three American evangelicals who flew to Uganda to keynote a three-day anti-gay conference that indoctrinated literally thousands of Ugandans, from government officials to teachers, with the most putrid and pernicious lies imaginable. Lively himself likened it to dropping “a nuclear bomb on the gay agenda.” Ugandans were falsely told that gay men sodomize vulnerable teenage boys in a kind of quasi-vampiric lust for new sexual conquests, “recruit” young people into homosexuality, and actively seek to undermine society and marriage, replacing it with sexual anarchy. They were told that it was possible to “pray away the gay,” that gays were to blame for the recent genocide in neighboring Rwanda, and that they should take measures in their homes and society to clamp down hard on the “evil” of homosexuality and strengthen weak anti-homosexuality laws.
We all know what happened next. A month after the conference, Ugandan parliamentarian David Bahati — one of Lively’s key men in the country — introduced the notorious Anti-Homosexuality Bill, also known as the “Kill the Gays” bill. An international outcry ensued, led by LGBT rights groups including Truth Wins Out, whose American Prayer Hour drew national attention to the Ugandan bill and its disturbing connection to American evangelical Christians and D.C. politicians. The bill stalled temporarily, but was re-worked and re-introduced last month. In the meantime, LGBT people in Uganda have faced threats, intimidation, persecution, violence, and even murder.
Yesterday’s lawsuit was filed by CCR on behalf of Sexual Minorities Uganda, a major LGBT advocacy group in that country. Lively is being sued for persecution under the alien tort statute, a law allowing foreigners to sue American citizens in federal court for violating international law. TWO has been consulted on the suit, due to the prominent role the “pray away the gay” myth plays in Lively’s anti-LGBT bigotry and Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill.
Demonstrators in Springfield, including TWO’s Becker, processed yesterday from the federal courthouse to Holy Grounds Coffee House, a local coffee shop owned by Lively where he lures people in (including students from a school just down the street) with free coffee and wifi in order to expose them to anti-gay, fundamentalist propaganda. The protesters wore all black. Some also wore masks to symbolize the silencing of Uganda’s LGBT people, others carried signs with the names of LGBT victims of violence and persecution in that country. Still others carried coffins representing those who have been murdered for being gay. One of them bore the name of prominent LGBT activist David Kato, who was killed last year. The signs and coffins, along with flowers memorializing the victims, were laid in front of Lively’s coffee house, symbolically placing the blame at his feet. The peaceful demonstration was conducted in complete silence, punctuated only by slow, solemn drumbeats keeping time as the mourners marched.