SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – A Springfield pastor known for criticizing what he terms the “gay agenda” has won a legal battle against an LGBT rights group based in Uganda.
Federal Judge Michael Ponsor accepted Scott Lively’s motion for summary judgment in the case against him, which was brought forward by the group Sexual Minorities Uganda, or SMUG. In their lawsuit, SMUG had alleged that Lively (who had visited Uganda and communicated with some clergy members and officials there on LGBT issues) had been waging a campaign to persecute gay people in the country.
Early drafts of the country’s 2014 anti-homosexuality act had called for the death penalty for those convicted of “aggravated homosexuality,” but that was reduced to life imprisonment. Ponsor wrote in his referendum that while discussing the draft bill with Ugandan officials, Lively had suggested a twenty year prison sentence, instead of capital punishment.
SMUG had filed their lawsuit under the Alien Tort Statute, which allows foreign nationals to bring suit against Americans for violations of international law or treaties signed by the United States. Ponsor ruled, however, that the statute does not cover any alleged injuries that were committed outside the United States. In his memorandum, Ponsor had strongly critical words for Lively, but ultimately found his legal reasoning to be correct.
“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. The much narrower and more technical question posed by Defendant’s motion is whether the limited actions taken by defendant on American soil in pursuit of his odious campaign are sufficient to give this court jurisdiction over Plaintiff’s claims. Since they are not sufficient, summary judgment is appropriate for this, and only this, reason,” Ponsor wrote.
For Lively’s part, the Liberty Counsel, a conservative legal group that represented the pastor, says that Ponsor should have dismissed the lawsuit back in 2013, based on a Supreme Court ruling that year that dealt with the Alien Tort Statute. Further, they criticized Ponsor for his characterization of Lively.
“… he (Ponsor) let his personal bias against pro-family values and support of the LGBT agenda slip into what should otherwise have been a straight legal opinion. Legally, Judge Ponsor had no choice on the law. The Supreme Court had clearly spoken,” states a Liberty Counsel news release sent to 22News. “But what he did in his opinion is unbecoming by hurling names at Pastor Lively. None of the evidence supports any of the allegations.”
Lively is the author of the book “The Pink Swastika,” which suggests that gays were behind the rise of Nazi Germany.
He ran for governor of Massachusetts in 2014, coming fourth in a field of five candidates, and receiving about 1% of the vote.