After gay rights victories across America, religious fundamentalists are now taking their failed battles to other countries... and winning

Anti-gay activist Scott Lively is currently in a legal battle after a civil rights lawsuit was filed against him by gay rights advocate group Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG). The lawsuit “accuses the well known pastor of a crime against humanity for allegedly inspiring a movement aimed at stripping away the rights of the Ugandan lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community using legal, political, and social persecution.”

Uganda’s treatment of it’s LGBT community is deplorable. In 2014, there were 89 recorded violations against Ugandans based on their sexuality. Newspapers often publish the names of alleged homosexuals, with the purpose of agitating mobs to persecute them. But all the social and political intolerance towards gays can be traced back to Lively’s anti-gay activism in Uganda.

As Frank Mugish, executive director of SMUG explains, “Before, there was [name calling] and people disagreeing with homosexuality in general, but we didn’t have the idea of a ‘gay agenda’…That exportation of hatred is something new in Uganda.”

The name calling and sneering towards gays turned violent once Lively started indoctrinating Ugandans about the “disease” of homosexuality. As Mother Jones reports, Lively preached a message which exploited the fears and prejudices of Ugandans who attended his lectures.

Scott Lively lied about “Western Marxist” gay activists invading Uganda to make children gay, how gays were Nazi’s, sociopaths and murderers, and if the “disease” of homosexuality wasn’t stopped, the fabric of society would be torn apart and children would start having gay orgies on school buses.

Lively’s lectures had a mobilizing effect on many Ugandans. Vigilante crime against homosexuals soared, with some newspapers revealing names of alleged homosexuals who later ended up being killed by mob violence. One of the victims of this violence, David Kato, had been a prominent gay rights activist who was beaten to death by a hammer after a tabloid released his picture along with an angry editorial that called to hang him.

In 2009, with popular consensus, Uganda tried to pass a bill that was nick-named the “Kill the gays” bill for its imposition of the death penalty on homosexuals. Although the bill failed to pass, the Ugandan government passed a similar bill in 2013 that substituted life imprisonment for the death penalty (this act was later ruled invalid by the Constitutional Court of Uganda).

It is sad that due to the slow but increasing victories of the gay rights movement in America, religious fundamentalists are now taking their failed battles to other countries. Not only has the anti-gay movement made roots in Uganda, but they continue expanding their influence to other countries in Europe and Latin America. As a matter of fact, Lively has been an influential voice in Russia’s current anti-gay fervor. And he is extremely proud of that fact.

Currently, Scott Lively is being represented by Liberty Counsel, the same activist group that represented Kim Davis, and is casting himself as the victim of what he calls the “enormously wealthy and powerful international homosexual network.” Lively’s activism has caused the persecution and murder of homosexuals in Uganda and different parts of the world, yet he claims to be the victim.

To be fair, Lively is one of the more radical elements of the anti-gay movement. But even “moderate” “pro-family” advocates engage in dangerous rhetoric when they incessantly claim that homosexuality is against the “laws of nature” and that it will destroy the fabric of society. The consequences of anti-gay activism are more than clear in Uganda.

You can’t argue with anti-gay activists about the scientific facts that people who are gay are simply born that way, that punishing gays will do nothing to change who they are, and therefore calling for gays to repent or die is equivalent to mass extermination based on sexuality.

Just because “the Bible says so”.


  1. It is ironic that, just after reading your column, I read an email sent to me by a friend in Virginia—an Episcopal priest who actually believes that South Carolina is more socially moderate than the hinterlands of the commonwealth which he calls home. I’m not buying, but he’s still sayin’.

    His email contained a quote by one of Virginia’s new ultra-conservative congressmen, Dave Brat, in which he says that conservatives need to “reeducate” their conservative base per the fact—he thinks its factual!—“that we own the entire tradition” of Christian love.

    Now, professing ownership of an entire tradition of anything is a pretty hefty carry, but professing ownership of “the entire tradition” of Christian love is a load that the shoulders of the conservative movement just aren’t sturdy enough to bear.

    I seriously had to re-read it to make sure I had read it right.

    And then I thought about your column in light of what Mr. Brat—I wonder if he knows that names in the Bible often go to identity?—had to say and I had to ask myself if I was just old and experiencing a moment of cognitive dissonance or if the American Right really does live on the other side of the Looking Glass.

      • Hey George—I remember it well and remember wondering how anyone could get to the right of Cantor without falling off the Republicans’ flat earth. I don’t care enough about Mr. Brat to look it up but isn’t he—or, wasn’t he—a college professor somewhere? If so, it only serves to prove that I was right in thinking, when they slid that doctoral hood over my head at Emory, that “Hey, if I can get one of these, they’ll give one to anybody.”

  2. As a former agnostic that has morphed into a full blown atheist, I find these people to be incredibly ignorant and more of a danger to the fabric of society than anyone supporting, not only gay rights, but universal equal rights across the board.

  3. One day Lively will decide Jews must die. And follow the same pattern. He’ll also decide someday that blacks must die, but he’ll probably have to use another country to push that agenda.

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