Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) together with a number of partners who included but are not limited to the Center of Constitutional rights made the decision to take US preacher, Scot Lively to court for his spread of hate and encouragement of discrimination and exclusion of LGBT persons. This was based on Scott Lively’s hate speech in Uganda in 2009.
SMUG and its partners initially looked at different options like the International Criminal Court, the Ugandan Court as well as the US Courts of law. Eventually, it was decided that the case should be pursued in The United States where Scott Lively is based.
The case was first filed in 2012 and opposing counsel requested for it to be dismissed on grounds of freedom of speech and expression as well as lack of evidence. The judge ruled in SMUG’s favour for the case to proceed on grounds that persecution of LGBT persons is equivalent to abuse of human rights.
On 9th November 2016, the second hearing of the case will take place; the hearing will see both sides orally present their arguments before the court. This will be followed by the judge’s decision which is not time bound and can happen anytime between one week or one year; this decision is what will determine if the case will then go to trial or not.
According to the SMUG Executive Director, Dr Frank Mugisha, the case against Scott Lively is not about what he said but rather what he did. He explains that on top of Lively’s actions which included leaving the US to export hatred to Uganda, the preacher’s involvement in the hate propaganda against Uganda’s sexual and gender minorities resulted into grave implications like media outings and further discrimination.
He also points out that the US preacher conspired with Ugandan preachers to bring this anti gay propaganda to the forefront; something that created more bias towards Uganda’s LGBT persons. Lively’s hate speech also further encouraged Ugandan politicians, policy makers as well as religious leaders to undermine the basic rights of LGBT persons.
Lively also supported the drafting of the Anti Homosexuality Bill in 2009; he (Lively) has proudly declared that he supported the authoring of the laws held within the bill although he was against the death penalty.
Dr Mugisha explained that the case has taken a long time because the process to arrive at where it is today has been long and tedious. Both parties had to do data collection which included evidence and documentation, data venting by the legal team as well as depositions; processes that he explains took quite a bit of time.
Douglas Mawadri, who is in charge of the legal desk at SMUG says the case against Scott Lively is historical and will put measures in place for western preachers to stop exporting homophobia into Africa. He says they have done their homework and are confident with what they will be bringing before the judge next week.
All eyes will be on this case next week and Uganda’s LGBT community rallies behind SMUG as the fight against both internal and imported homophobia continues.