As homophobic attacks and anti-gay laws rise in Africa, people like American evangelist, Scott Lively, should be held responsible for crimes against humanity, says Rob Buchanan.
American Anti-gay evangelist Scott Lively is to go on trial for ‘crimes against humanity’ for his part in orchestrating the latest wave of homophobia across Africa, including the ‘jail the gays’ law in Uganda. Lively is being sued by the organisation Sexual Minorities Uganda. The landmark sexuality-based lawsuit is a so-called Alien Tort Statute, which allows claimants from other nations to sue in US courts when the charged person allegedly “committed gross human rights violations”.
Like some insane hybrid of Judge John Hathorne from Arthur Miller’s The Crucible and a demonic televangelist, Lively has exploited largely uneducated communities to create hysterical anti-gay panic. He deliberately incited witch-hunts on a vast, continental scale. His claims, which would at best have been laughed at even in the most conservative areas of his home nation, were embraced with open arms by vulnerable communities in the developing world, hungry for answers and scapegoats. Ignorance and desperation are two powerful ladders for ambitious fanatics like Lively, and amid uncertain economic times in Africa he found a willing audience. Lively specifically targeted influential people and career politicians in Uganda, who would be sympathetic to his particular brand of outlandish homophobia. After a hate-speech conference he spoke at, which was attended by prominent figures in Ugandan society and its police force, he stated his campaign was like “a nuclear bomb against the gay agenda in Uganda”.
Lively is not the only American anti-gay evangelist who has found fertile ground for the spreading of hate in the impoverished third world. But the sheer misery and levels of human rights abuse his particular efforts have yielded is on a catastrophic scale. Along with spreading his brand of hate in Africa, he has also set up ministries in European locations such as Latvia.
Lively is one of a particularly dangerous brand of homophobe who touts the idea of a ‘gay agenda’. Half conspiracy-theory, half crusade, it creates a feeling a panic, which triggers violence while at the same time creating comfort for the believer by providing an explanation for their own difficult or discontented life. It’s not their fault they’re poor or unhappy, or that their government is corrupt, it’s because of the gay agenda.
Far beyond simply disagreeing with or denouncing queers, Lively believes there is an actual global gay conspiracy, hell-bent (excuse the pun) on destroying the world as we know it. It’s freakishly ironic that this man, who advocates the hatred and extermination of an ‘undesirable’ minority, has actually accused homosexuals of orchestrating the Third Reich and the Holocaust. In the introduction of one of his most notorious books The Pink Swastika he says “homosexuals are the true inventors of Nazism and the guiding force behind many Nazi atrocities”. Given that the Nazi’s persecuted and murdered homosexuals in the most hideous ways, this is doubly hard to swallow, but whilst these wild accusations might seem outrageously laughable in the West, in Africa, and for that matter, Russia they have a frightening resonance for dissasistfied peoples.
Unsurprisingly this enlightened and God-fearing individual has a string of charges against him, for everything from embezzlement to assault and drunk driving. It remains to be seen how effective the Sexual Minorities Uganda case will be in both punishing Lively and dissuading other foreign religious fanatics from exploiting the relative poverty and lack of education in the Third World.
As gay rights advance in America, Africa seems to be the battleground where US religious extremist homophobes are taking their proxy war against an innocent foe. They are deliberately creating instability and cultivating hatred in a way that can only be compared to the brutality of the colonialism experienced by that continent in centuries past.
This time around, however, the victims have an international voice thanks to the Internet. We must listen to that voice and show even a fraction of the courage the victims face daily by demanding that we don’t export a western brand of homophobia, that will bring torture and misery to the innocent in a part of our world already on the knife-edge of extreme hunger and poverty.
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