Thursday, August 22, 2013
Uganda August 19, 2013 Kampala, Uganda – Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) happily welcomes the court ruling by US Federal judge on Wednesday August 14, 2013. In the historic ruling the judge rejected a motion to dismiss a crimes against humanity case brought by Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) against evangelical Pastor Scott Lively of Massachusetts. The judge ruled that persecution on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity is indeed a crime against humanity and that the fundamental human rights of Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Intersex [LGBTI] people are protected under international law. “Widespread, systematic persecution of LGBTI people constitutes a crime against humanity that unquestionably violates international norms,” said Judge Michael Ponsor. “The history and current existence of discrimination against LGBTI people is precisely what qualifies them as a distinct targeted group eligible for protection under international law. The fact that a group continues to be vulnerable to widespread, systematic persecution in some parts of the world simply cannot shield one who commits a crime against humanity from liability.” The ruling means that the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), who brought the case on behalf of Sexual Minorities of Uganda (SMUG), can move forward over defendant Scott Lively’s request to dismiss the lawsuit. The lawsuit alleges that Lively’s actions over the past decade, in collaboration with key Ugandan government officials and religious leaders, are responsible for depriving Ugandan Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Intersex people of their fundamental human rights based merely on their identity, which is the definition of persecution under international law and is deemed a crime against humanity. This effort bore fruit most notably in the introduction of the infamous Anti-Homosexuality Bill commonly known as “the Kill the Gays bill”, which Lively abetted. Frank Mugisha, the Executive Director of SMUG said, “This ruling should be a clear signal to extreme religious groups all over the world, and especially those that spread hate here in Uganda, that their hatred will not go unpunished by the arm of the law.” Lively has also been active in countries like Russia where a new law criminalizing gay rights advocacy was recently passed. In 2007, Lively toured 50 cities in Russia recommending some of the measures that are now law. “We are gratified that the court recognized the persecution and the gravity of the danger faced by our clients as a result of Scott Lively’s actions. Lively’s single-minded campaign has worked to criminalize their very existence, strip away their fundamental rights and threaten their physical safety.” Said CCR Attorney Pam Spees U.S. law allows foreign citizens to sue for violations of international law in U.S. federal courts under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS). The case, Sexual Minorities Uganda v. Lively, was originally filed in federal court in Springfield, MA, in March 2012. Today’s ruling is here. For more information, visit CCR’s case page. Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) is an advocacy network comprised of 18 member organizations committed to advancing the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people in Uganda. SMUG was founded in 2004 as a non-profit organization. Follow @SMUG2004; Like us at http://www.facebook.com/smug2004 The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change. Visit www.ccrjustice.org; follow @theCCR.