Sexual Minorities Uganda Executive Director Dr Frank Mugisha says #SMUGvsLively case is a win for the organization even though the case has been dismissed by a court in Massachusetts. In his own words Dr Frank says “The case is a win for SMUG because we were able to hold Scott Lively accountable , this case exposed the dangers of extreme Christains and reduced their influence in Uganda and for the first time a court recognised that persecuation of LGBT persons amounts to crimes against humanity ”
The court discussed, in strong and clear terms, how the evidence shows that Scott Lively in fact aided and abetted the persecution of Uganda’s LGBTI community. The court also reaffirmed its previous landmark holding in this case – that persecution on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity amounts to a crime against humanity under international law. In a key passage, the court made this clear:
“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.”
In 2013 (after SMUG filed this case against Lively), the United States Supreme Court ruled in a different case, called Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Shell, that U.S. courts have limited ability to rule on human rights violations that occur in other countries. It was based on the Kiobel case that the court here dismissed SMUG’s lawsuit. We believe that even with Kiobel’s limitations, SMUG’s case should have gone forward because Scott Lively is a U.S. citizen and contributed to the persecution in Uganda in part from the United States – and those two facts should give a U.S. court jurisdiction, but the court disagreed.
Apart from dismissing on this technical ground, the judge spent a lot time reviewing the evidence produced in this case and determined that Lively: “aided and abetted a vicious and frightening campaign of repression against LGBTI persons in Uganda.” The court also dismissed as ridiculous Lively’s key claims about “homosexuals” being responsible for the Holocaust and genocide and a threat to children.
Some more key quotes from the ruling:
“[Lively’s] crackpot bigotry could be brushed aside as pathetic, except for the terrible harm it can cause. The record in this case demonstrates that Defendant has worked with elements in Uganda who share some of his views to try to repress freedom of expression by LGBTI people in Uganda, deprive them of the protection of the law, and render their very existence illegal.”
The evidence “confirmed the nature of Defendant’s, on the one hand, vicious and, on the other hand, ludicrously extreme animus against LGBTI people and his determination to assist in persecuting them wherever they are, including Uganda. The evidence of record demonstrates that Defendant aided and abetted efforts (1) to restrict freedom of expression by members of the LBGTI community in Uganda, (2) to suppress their civil rights, and (3) to make the very existence of LGBTI people in Uganda a crime.”
The court explained that it was ruling on a much narrower and technical issue – whether Lively’s actions on American soil in pursuit of his campaign in Uganda were sufficient to bestow a U.S. court jurisdiction to hold him accountable. (“Jurisdiction” means the court’s ability to rule on an issue.)-This was the basis of the dismissal of the case.
However, SMUG is discussing modalities to appeal the ruling based on jurisdiction and hold Scott Lively accountable for his actions of aiding and abetting the efforts to demonize, intimidate, and injure LGBTI people.