How One American Bigot Helped Author Uganda’s “Kill the Gays” Law

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Pastor-Scott-Lively-Screenshot

Scott Lively believes in homosexual conspiracies. He believes gays were behind the rise of Nazi Germany, and that they were involved in the American slave trade, as well as Apartheid. He regularly chimes in with proof that US president Barack Obama is gay, and to some lawmakers all over the world, he is incredibly influential.

Scott Lively is an evangelical Christian and a longtime proponent of laws to criminalize homosexuality. Lively had his most politically-ascendant moment on February 24, when Uganda’s president signed a bill to send anyone found guilty of “aggravated homosexuality,” a charge including gay sex, pedophilia and incest, to prison for life. A previous version had sought the death penalty for gays, a bill popularly referred to as the “Kill the Gays” bill. Lively had long championed the law.

While the Ugandan bill has as much to do with a leader, Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni, who has ruled for 28 years and needs a convenient scapegoat, and a society looking to distance itself from hated western “decadence” and parochialism, many would look at the bill and see evidence of a backward society persecuting those already oppressed.

But the “Kill the Gays” law is an American export.

Lively has emerged as a central influence to the law based on his body of work in the US and abroad. He lectured widely in Uganda about the “homosexual agenda” starting in 2009, where he joined a flourishing network of evangelical Christian groups with prominent members, such as California’s Rick Warren. His lectures packed thousands, including lawmakers, police, and religious leaders. Lively’s basic message? Gays want to rule the world, and in some cases already do. The way gays recruit people into their agenda is by molesting them as children, thus making them gay. Some batshit beliefs, for sure, but they’re ones he found success with in the US.

In fact, he learned his craft in his former home-state of Oregon.

In 1992, the state of Oregon came close to declaring homosexuality “abnormal, wrong, unnatural and perverse.” A ballot initiative known as Measure 9 had made its way to voters, promoted by a conservative Christian group called the Oregon Citizen’s Alliance (OCA).

The OCA’s spokesperson? Scott Lively.

The language of the bill would have amended Oregon’s state constitution to reflect this statement. Oregon is usually viewed as some dippy liberal utopia, and the center of most of the state’s population, Portland, most certainly is. But until the late 1980s, Oregon was considered the most conservative Western state. The regional nature of state politics mean that liberals tend to gravitate toward urban centers clustered around Interstate 5, while the rest of the population diffused around the rest of the state is very conservative.

Measure 9, which would have banned schools from teaching material that “promoted homosexuality” was defeated 56-44, but that didn’t stop the Oregon Citizen’s Alliance. They backed local measures, watered-down versions of Measure 9, and won in a handful of counties and towns, until the state legislature invalidated them. Before they were done, they sponsored more anti-gay legislation, all of which faced defeat.

Lively was known for his belligerence on these matters, and the campaigns divided communities. Attacks on homosexuals occurred. Lively himself grabbed a lesbian photographer by the hair, slammed her against a wall, and threw her out of the room at an OCA film screening in 1991. She successfully sued him for $30,000.

Oregon conservatives were able to score a victory in 2004, with a state gay marriage ban, but by that time, Lively was gone to California. He began a career of traveling the world, speaking his hateful gospel, and attracting the ear of conservative Christian leaders and legislators.

Lively not only spent time in Africa, but also Eastern Europe as part of an international anti-gay group called Watchmen of the Walls, he expanded on the gays-as-Nazis angle he had delivered to Russian Christian audiences in Sacramento. It would be a fruitful turn, as his first stop was Latvia, where he was involved with anti-LGBT organizations that would help marshal forces for Russia’s anti-gay laws.

Lively spoke to the Associated Press after the Ugandan law’s passage, saying that it was too harsh, in the same breath mentioning that Russia’s “gay propaganda” law, one he also campaigned for, was the right one.

Lively was sued in 2012 by a pro-gay group of Ugandans claiming that his support for the “Kill the Gays” law would have an adverse effect of them. A judge allowed the suit to go forward, and Lively is currently being charged with crimes against humanity under international law.

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