Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Anti-Gay Activist Pastor Scott Lively Ordered to Stand Trial for Crimes Against Humanity

Scott Lively, now to be defendant in international crimes against humanity lawsuit case.

Scott Lively, American anti-gay extremist, now to be defendant in international crimes against humanity lawsuit case.

Springfield, Massachusetts – In a historic judicial ruling, a federal judge denied a motion filed on behalf of U.S. hate pastor Scott Lively asking the court to dismiss a lawsuit accusing Lively of international crimes against humanity. This unprecedented decision by Judge Michael A. Ponsor, Senior Judge on the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, effectively orders Lively to face charges that establish anti-gay persecution as a crime against humanity, according to Out.com.  In his ruling issued on Wednesday, August 14, U.S. District Judge Ponsor stated, “Widespread, systematic persecution of LGBTI people constitutes a crime against humanity that unquestionably violates international norms.”  Judge Ponsor, a Rhodes scholar and widely respected federal justice, went on to say,  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.”

 Lively, founder of Abiding Truth Ministries, Inc., and author of the virulently anti-gay book, The Pink Swastika: Homosexuality in the Nazi Party (1995), has made a living by reviling LGBTQ people in the USA and around the world.   Notoriously, Lively is a central propagandist inciting homophobic lawmakers in the central African nation of Uganda to enact draconian laws such as the “Kill the Gays Bill” pending before parliament, making homosexuality illegal and in some cases punishable by death.  But Lively has not limited his vilification of LGBTQ people to Africa by any means, according to the Intelligence Files of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a watchdog organization monitoring all manner of hate crimes emanating from the U.S.  The SPLC details Lively’s hate-mongering throughout the USA through front organizations such as the Oregon Citizens Alliance (OCA), the California branch of the American Family Association (AFA), Lively’s own spawn, Abiding Truth Ministries of Massachusetts, and, most recently, Watchmen on the Walls (WOTW), an extremist anti-gay organization with an international outreach that Lively co-launched in Riga, Latvia in 2007.  Lively’s religion-based bigotry and Holocaust revisionism, particularly his spurious claims that homosexuals dominated the German Nazi Party and instigated the immolation of millions of European Slavs and Jews during World War II, have incited suspicion, hatred, and violent persecution of countless LGBTQ people in Africa, Russia, and around the world.
 
Ugandan protestors outside London embassy [Voice of America photo].

Ugandan protestors outside London embassy [Voice of America photo].

Lively’s anti-gay activism in Uganda has finally caught up with him.  The SPLC reports: “[Lively’s]  work in Uganda led to a lawsuit against him under the Alien Tort Claims Act, filed March 14, 2012, by Sexual Minorities Uganda, an LGBT rights group in that country. The lawsuit alleges that Lively conspired with political and religious leaders in Uganda beginning in 2002 to incite anti-gay hysteria with warnings about the dangers of homosexuals to children and homosexuality to Ugandan culture.”  This lawsuit, Sexual Minorities Uganda v. Lively, filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) on behalf of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), is the suit U.S. District Judge Ponsor allowed to proceed against Lively.  The suit alleges that Lively directly consulted and instigated with Ugandan religious and government authorities to deprive LGBTQI Ugandans of their basic human rights solely and deliberately as a result of their identities.  According to the statues of the International Criminal Court, such activities as enslavement, torture, murder and “persecution against an identifiable group on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious or gender grounds,” constitute “crimes against humanity.” Out.com indicates that the Alien Torte Statute allows foreign nationals to sue for violations of international rights in U.S. courts.  In the language of the SMUG lawsuit, Lively “through actions taken both within the United States and in Uganda has attempted to foment, and to a substantial degree has succeeding in fomenting, an atmosphere of harsh and frightening repression against LGBTI people in Uganda.”
 
U.S. District Judge Michael A. Ponsor issued the historic ruling against Scott Lively on August 14, 2013.

U.S. District Judge Michael A. Ponsor issued the historic ruling against Scott Lively on August 14, 2013.

While the court battle is hardly over, Wednesday’s ruling in U.S. District Court is a clear defeat of Lively’s heretofore unaccountable hate speech and advocacy against sexual and gender variant minorities, and a shot across the bow of any other individuals or organizations that seek to deny the rights of LGBTQI people throughout the world.  It is also a blow to the anti-gay Liberty Counsel, a rightwing legal consortium created by the arch heterosexist/homphobic evangelical ideologue, Rev. Jerry Falwell, which set out to defend Lively from the CCR/SMUG lawsuit.  The lead attorney for CCR, Pam Spees, responded to press requests for comment, saying, “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.” Frank Mugisha, Director of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) and winner of the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award, said to Gay Star News after the ruling was made public Wednesday, “Today’s ruling is a significant victory for human rights everywhere but most especially for LGBTI Ugandans who are seeking accountability from those orchestrating our persecution.”

 
The case has now been referred to U.S. District Magistrate Judge Kenneth P. Neiman to be scheduled for a pretrial conference at a future date.  The full Memorandum and Order issued by U.S. District Judge Michael A. Ponsor is available here.

August 15, 2013 Posted by | "Kill the Gays Bill", Abiding Truth Ministries, Africa, Anti-Gay Hate Groups, Anti-LGBT hate crime, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), Crimes against humanity, GLBTQ, Hate Crimes, hate speech, Heterosexism and homophobia, LGBTQ, Liberty Counsel, Massachusetts, religious hate speech, religious intolerance, Russia, Scott Lively, Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), Social Justice Advocacy, Southern Poverty Law Center, The Pink Swastika, Uganda, Watchmen on the Walls | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Suspect 3rd Century Women Put to Death in Arena: Ancient Hate Crime?

Carthage, North Africa Province – Roman authorities ordered the public execution of a young Roman noblewoman and a female slave in the arena of Carthage on this date, March 7, 203 CE (Common Era). Vibia Perpetua, 22, a young mother, and Felicitas, a slave of like age who was also a young mother, both North African Christians, joined their male counterparts as victims in what legitimately might be called a state-sanctioned hate crime for refusing to swear allegiance to the Emperor, Septimius Severus.  Suspicion about the sexual orientation of the women has swirled around the story for centuries. Was the tie that bound these young women together faith alone, or was it something more?  Perpetua, one of the first Christian women in history to author an account of her own life, wrote a “Prison Diary” that was edited after her execution by an anonymous narrator who opens with an short introduction and closes with what appears to be an eye-witness account of the life-and-death drama that took place in the amphitheater of Carthage. Nothing explicit is written concerning the possible desire of the two young women for each other in the account, entitled “The Passion of Saints Perpetua and Felicity.” But the lasting impression among gays and lesbians for the last two hundred years is that these North African Christian women were bound to each other with a mutuality that seems particularly “woman-centered” even for the outlawed early Christian communities of the late second and early third centuries, not to mention the strictly hierarchical and socially stratified world of the Roman provinces. Perpetua had given birth to a baby shortly before her condemnation, and Felicity who joined her in prison gave birth right on the eve of the execution. The motherhood of the women has been used to counter the suspicion of lesbianism or bisexuality, but as Yale gay historian John Boswell writes, “A young woman’s marriage in second- or third-century Rome did not necessarily indicate anything about the direction of her affections.” Others have argued that the Christian mission of the women made them comrades in martyrdom as they died for their faith, in refutation of any suggestion of lesbian affection between them. Mary Rose D’Angelo refuses this objection in her famous essay on women partners in the New Testament: “In the early Christian pairs, it is the women’s participation in the Christian mission that takes the foreground.  But that should not obscure the recognition that their commitment to the mission can also be seen as the commitment to each other.” The witness-narrator of the execution watched as a crazed, wild heifer, especially chosen for its gender to shame the young women, was unleashed to gore them. The mad cow tossed Perpetua, ripping her dress.  The cow then crushed Felicity to the ground before losing interest in the victims. There was nothing un-Roman about a young noblewoman reaching out her hand to help a slave up, as the narrator reports Perpetua does.  But then something most un-Roman takes place.  The Latin text (20.7) reads: Et ambae pariter steterunt, “And they both stood there together.” It is not only that these young women stood together, but that they did so when they were not expected to do so. Carolyn Osiek, the New Testament scholar from Brite Divinity School, writes of this dramatic moment: “But perhaps the author knew more than we suspect and was telling of a solidarity that had grown between the two women of unequal social status, who stood together as equals facing death.” In this moment of surprise, the curtain of nearly two thousand years is parted for an instant. Elizabeth Castelli writes that there are “moments of slippage, spaces where the self-evidency of gender conventions and relationships for which they were foundational might have been thought otherwise.” This surprising moment is one of them, when a coating of eroticism thinly glosses over two standing together, social unequals, equally facing death side-by-side. Perpetua and Felicity stand at the head of a long line of transgressive women who suffered gender hatred, suspect because of sexual outlaw status. At the very heart of Christian witness, two young women whose affection for each other was forged in a Roman prison hold onto love in the face of state-sanctioned hate crime.  For this, we honor them.

March 7, 2011 Posted by | Africa, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Bisexual persons, Carthage, Execution, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Lesbian women, Martyrdom as State-Sanctioned Hate Crime, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Perpetua and Felicity, Public Theology, religious intolerance, Remembrances, Roman North Africa, Special Comments, women | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Suspect 3rd Century Women Put to Death in Arena: Ancient Hate Crime?

Ugandan Gay Activist Killed in Cold Blood: Were Christians Accomplices in His Murder?

Kampala, Uganda – Prominent defender of Gay Rights in Uganda, David Kato, was murdered in his home by two blows with a hammer this Wednesday. Kato, 40-something at the time of his slaughter, was a well-known voice around the world for human rights, and an outspoken leader protesting Draconian legislation in his home country which would make consensual same-sex activity punishable by law, perhaps even requiring the state to execute convicted homosexuals. What responsibility does the Christian Church bear for the outrageous murder of David Kato? Many in Uganda, including leading church officials, priests, missionaries, and ministers, fervently believe in a sort of “gay conspiracy”on the part of same-sex loving men whom they say will infect their children with the “virus of homosexuality.” Friday, Kato’s funeral was marred by the homophobic outburst of an Anglican priest, Fr. Thomas Musoke, who loudly invoked dire comparisons with the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah until mourners wrenched a microphone out of his hands, according to 365 Gay.  The Ugandan Anglican Church, active in encouraging resistance among conservative Episcopalians to the elevation of gays and lesbians as bishops in the United States in recent years, is well-known for opposing LGBTQ rights in the Central African nation.  Christian evangelical missionaries and so-called “experts” on homosexual sin from the United States, such as the notorious Watchman on the Walls Scott Lively, have preached the judgment of God on the Ugandan people if gays and lesbians are allowed to live and love openly in society. U.S. evangelicals exerting influence in Uganda teach that gays and lesbians could be changed to heterosexuality by prayer and counseling if they had enough faith. According to masslive.com, Lively, part of a 2009 evangelical mission to Uganda preaching anti-gay messages to officials and churchmen (Lively even spoke before the Ugandan Parliament during the tour), now says that it is “too early to call Kato’s murder a hate crime,” since the police have rushed to claim that the murder was the consequence of a simple robbery. In rebuttal, Val Kalende, chairwoman of an LGBT human rights group in Uganda said to the New York Times, “David’s death is a result of the hatred planted in Uganda by U.S. evangelicals in 2009. The Ugandan government and the so-called U.S. evangelicals must take responsibility for David’s blood.” Indeed, well-funded groups such as the shadowy Washington C Street evangelical organization, “The Family,” have sent funds and encouragement for the “Kill The Gays” legislations still making its way through the Ugandan Parliament. M.P. David Bahati, primary sponsor of anti-gay legislation in Uganda, is affiliated with “The Family.”  NPR host, Michel Martin, explored the culpability of Christians for Kato’s murder with guests on her weekday broadcast, “Tell Me More,” this Friday.  Martin interviewed Jeffery Gettleman, East Africa Bureau chief for the New York Times, asking him directly, “This has also been a big story in the United States, of course, because of the participation of a group of American evangelicals whom we also interviewed on this program. One in particular named Scott Lively, who many human rights activists have said helped to create this context of intolerance. Do you think that that’s true? Do you think the American evangelicals’ visit there was really that influential?” Gettleman replied, “I do think it was influential. I think a lot of people in Uganda and the part of Africa where I live, in Kenya and most of this continent and probably most of this world, there’s many people who are homophobic. But it didn’t take a violent form. It was – people thought that, in Uganda, people thought gay people were strange, that they were outliers, but they weren’t really fired up to do anything about it.” Gettleman continued, “It was only after the visits by these Americans who billed themselves as experts in dealing with homosexual issues that the Ugandan politicians and church groups got really angry about it and suggested killing gay people.” Religious hate speech, whether “soft” in its rhetoric (“Love the Sinner/Hate the Sin”), or blatantly hostile (“Gays and Lesbians are an Abomination in God’s Sight, and Deserve to Die”) has consequences for the safety of LGBTQ people wherever they live. This is certainly true, in our opinion, in Central Africa. David Kato was deservedly called “the father of the Uganda gay rights movement.” In the wave of hostility in tabloid media toward LGBTQ people following the 2009 U.S. evangelical tour of Uganda, Kato’s lynching was suggested in the press. When Christian leaders justify the demonization of LGBTQ people for their sexual orientation or gender presentation, either by selectively quoting scripture and subsequently distorting its life-giving meaning, or by reading their own homophobia back into church teaching to claim that “Gays and Lesbians are sinners,” these clerics are not only exposing a vulnerable minority to religious, political, and social persecution.  They are also exposing their own theology and ethics as woefully bankrupt and void of spiritual integrity. Clerics in Uganda and the United States who stoke hatred against LGBTQ people are no longer messengers of God. They have become a mob of theological thugs.  Anglican Archbishop Emeritus of Capetown, Desmond Tutu, is one of the few courageous voices of Christian integrity in Africa willing to speak out against religious intolerance and hate speech. In the Washington Post last March, Archbishop Tutu appealed for the church to own up to its role in fomenting hatred against gays and lesbians, and instead to commit its resources for repentance and reconciliation for all people.  He said, in part, “Hate has no place in the house of God. No one should be excluded from our love, our compassion or our concern because of race or gender, faith or ethnicity — or because of their sexual orientation.” Tutu continued, “Our lesbian and gay brothers and sisters across Africa are living in fear. And they are living in hiding — away from care, away from the protection the state should offer to every citizen and away from health care in the AIDS era, when all of us, especially Africans, need access to essential HIV services. That this pandering to intolerance is being done by politicians looking for scapegoats for their failures is not surprising. But it is a great wrong. An even larger offense is that it is being done in the name of God. Show me where Christ said ‘Love thy fellow man, except for the gay ones.’ Gay people, too, are made in my God’s image. I would never worship a homophobic God.” Amen, Archbishop!  Tutu must be joined by a world-wide chorus of Christian voices denouncing the murder of David Kato, the terrorization of his LGBTQ brothers and sisters, and renouncing the use of religion to incite bigotry and fear. Unless the world Christian community repents of its role in murder and mayhem like that in Uganda and Central Africa, Christian theology itself will continue to collapse from “heart-failure”–failing to discern and apply the heart of the message of Jesus Christ which was never bad tidings of fear, but Good News of mercy and justice for everyone.

January 29, 2011 Posted by | "Kill the Gays Bill", Africa, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Beatings and battery, C Street "The Family", funerals, gay bashing, gay men, harassment, Hate Crimes, hate speech, Heterosexism and homophobia, home-invasion, Law and Order, Legislation, Lesbian women, mob-violence and lynching, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Politics, Protests and Demonstrations, religious hate speech, religious intolerance, Slurs and epithets, Social Justice Advocacy, soft homophobia, Uganda, Unsolved LGBT Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Desecration of Gay Corpses in Senegal; Gay Men Hunted Like Animals

Madieye Diallo, picture held by his grieving father; AP photo by Ricci Shryock

Thies, Senegal – Madieye Diallo was a young gay man.  He died due to unconfirmed causes, and was buried in on 2 May 2009.  His sorrowing father, Ousmane Diallo, a shop owner in Thies, returned home to grieve.  In a matter of just a few hours, according to AP International, a gang of  homophobes dug up Madieye’s freshly buried body, pulled it out of the grave, spit on it, and dumped the desecrated body on the doorstep of his aging father and mother.  Proud of their work, the perpetrators used a cell phone to record their revenge on young Diallo for being gay, made a video out of it, and sold it in markets across Africa.  The heinous video has gone viral, spreading horror among African gay men in Senegal, Malawi, Nigeria, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Gambia and Uganda.  In South Africa, the only African nation to tolerate LGBT citizens, the outbreak of desecration and violence against gay people has ignited a series of “corrective actions” against suspected lesbians, rapes intended to straighten them out once and for all.  Desmond Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, is leading the fight against a groundswell of homophobic violence on the African continent, but his is a lonely voice.  thirty-seven countries in Africa outlaw homosexuality, and as has widely been reported, Uganda is officially considering law that would carry the death penalty for homosexual behavior.  “Across many parts of Africa, we’ve seen a rise in homophobic violence,” London-based gay-rights activist Peter Tatchell said to Rukmini Callimachi, reporter for the AP.  Tatchell’s organization records and monitors abuses against lesbians and gay men throughout the continent. “It’s been steadily building for the last 10 years but has got markedly worse in the last year,” he said.  Many suggest that a clandestine gay wedding in suburban Dakar, the capital of Senegal, sparked the current wave of anti-gay violence.  A Senegalese tabloid obtained photos of the wedding, splashing it across its front page in February 2008.  On the heels of this yellow journalism, in March 2008 a major international conference of Muslim clerics and the faithful was held in Senegal, and officials began oppressing any forms of behavior deemed “un-Muslim,” such as prostitution and homosexuality.  Police began rounding up men suspected of being gay.  Muslim preachers,Imams, have started denouncing homosexuality from their pulpits, egging the persecution further, as reported by the AP.  Massamba Diop, a militantly anti-gay imam and head of Jamra, a powerful political group linked to Senegal’s parliament, preached in one of his Friday sermons, “During the time of the Prophet, anytime two men were found together, they were taken to the top of a mountain and thrown off.”  Diop continued for his rapt congregation, “If they didn’t die when they hit the ground, then rocks would be thrown on them until they were killed.”  Callimachi, the AP reporter, noted that Diop’s homophobic sermons and others like it were broadcast by loudspeakers to mobs of worshipers who could not get into his crowded mosque in Pikine, and and have been covered in Senegal’s over 30 magazines and newspapers.  Scholars of anthropology have indicated that Muslim faithful are now blaming prostitutes and gay people for high inflation, bad weather, and poor harvests, as the outbreak of homophobia continues unabated.  Ironically, Senegal has been viewed as a paradigm of tolerant Islam, but this outbreak of repression and violence is putting an end to that opinion.  The tabloid hysteria and the religious crackdown drove gay men into exile in neighboring countries, but they failed to find sanctuary even there.  Gambia’s president published an edict warning Senegalese gays that they had a day to leave his country or face decapitation.  As early as mid-2008, deceased men suspected of being gay were refused religious burials in Senegal, and a wave of ghoulish desecrations of their bodies began to sweep the nation.  In Madieye Diallo’s province alone, just before he died, four other gay corpses were exhumed and abused.  A 31-year-old gay friend of Diallo’s, struggling with HIV, told Callimachi that after learning about the mob’s treatment of Diallo’s corpse, “I locked myself inside my room and didn’t come out for days. I’m afraid of what will happen to me after I die. Will my parents be able to bury me?”  Now, gay men are being hunted like animals…even after their deaths.

April 11, 2010 Posted by | "Kill the Gays Bill", Africa, Decapitation and dismemberment, desecration of corpses, funerals, gay men, harassment, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, Legislation, Lesbian women, mob-violence and lynching, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, rape, religious hate speech, religious intolerance, Senegal, Uganda | , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Desecration of Gay Corpses in Senegal; Gay Men Hunted Like Animals

Archbishop Tutu: “I would never worship a homophobic God”

Washington, DC – Desmond Tutu, emeritus Archbishop of Cape Town, issued a strong protest against African politicians and clerics who are persecuting LGBT people throughout the African continent.  In a powerfully worded editorial published in Friday’s Washington Post, the Nobel Peace Prize winner denounced anti-gay laws and policies in Uganda, Malawi, Rwanda, Burundi, Senegal, and Kenya.  Since perpetrators of anti-LGBT violence use Christian rhetoric and scripture in support of their crimes against gays and lesbians, The Unfinished Lives Project quotes at length here from the text of the editorial in order to begin to redress the perception that God, Christ, and the Church are in solidarity against LGBT people.  It is our hope that religious leaders of conscience throughout the world will join Archbishop Tutu in undercutting religious and spiritual bigotry wherever it arises. The Archbishop writes: Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people are part of so many families. They are part of the human family. They are part of God’s family. And of course they are part of the African family. But a wave of hate is spreading across my beloved continent. People are again being denied their fundamental rights and freedoms. Men have been falsely charged and imprisoned in Senegal, and health services for these men and their community have suffered. In Malawi, men have been jailed and humiliated for expressing their partnerships with other men. Just this month, mobs in Mtwapa Township, Kenya, attacked men they suspected of being gay. Kenyan religious leaders, I am ashamed to say, threatened an HIV clinic there for providing counseling services to all members of that community, because the clerics wanted gay men excluded.

“Uganda’s parliament is debating legislation that would make homosexuality punishable by life imprisonment, and more discriminatory legislation has been debated in Rwanda and Burundi.

“These are terrible backward steps for human rights in Africa.

“Our lesbian and gay brothers and sisters across Africa are living in fear.

“And they are living in hiding — away from care, away from the protection the state should offer to every citizen and away from health care in the AIDS era, when all of us, especially Africans, need access to essential HIV services. That this pandering to intolerance is being done by politicians looking for scapegoats for their failures is not surprising. But it is a great wrong. An even larger offense is that it is being done in the name of God. Show me where Christ said ‘Love thy fellow man, except for the gay ones.’ Gay people, too, are made in my God’s image. I would never worship a homophobic God.”

The Archbishop leaves no room for misunderstanding: “Hate,” he writes, “has no place in the house of God.” We at Unfinished Lives could not agree with him more.

March 16, 2010 Posted by | "Kill the Gays Bill", Africa, Anti-LGBT hate crime, anti-LGBT hate crime murder, gay men, harassment, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Law and Order, Legislation, Lesbian women, Perpetrators of Hate Crime, Politics, religious hate speech, religious intolerance, Social Justice Advocacy, Washington, D.C. | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Archbishop Tutu: “I would never worship a homophobic God”

   

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