Citing the Alien Tort Statute, which became law in 1789, a US district judge has ruled that a Ugandan umbrella LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex) organization may sue an American evangelical pastor in US court for allegedly committing “crimes against humanity.”
The Alien Tort Statute (ATS) permits foreign citizens to sue US citizens in US courts for actions “committed in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States.”
According to the court decision, Scott Lively, a Massachusetts pastor, reportedly traveled to Uganda, spoke out against homosexuality, linked homosexuality to pornography and pedophilia, and assisted government officials with the drafting of anti-homosexuality legislation.
“Widespread, systematic persecution of LGBTI people constitutes a crime against humanity that unquestionably violates international norms,” ruled Judge Michael Posner, a Clinton appointee. “Aiding and abetting in the commission of a crime against humanity is one of the limited group of international law violations for which the ATS furnishes jurisdiction.”
“The argument that international norms do not bar systematic persecution of LGBTI people, because -- in contrast to racial, ethnic or religious minorities -- they are not explicitly mentioned is unpersuasive,” Judge Posner continued. “Even a glance at the history of treatment of gays and lesbians makes it clear that the discrimination suffered by them is on a par with the treatment meted out to other groups, defined by religion, race, or some other accepted characteristic
“The critical feature that elevates a campaign of persecution to a crime against humanity is its expression as a widespread, systematic attack on the targeted community,” he added. “The allegations feature [Lively’s] active involvement in well orchestrated initiatives by legislative and executive branch officials and powerful private parties in Uganda, including elements of the media, to intimidate LGBTI people and to deprive them of their fundamental human rights to freedom of expression, life, liberty, and property … Numerous authorities confirm that a cause of action exists under international law for aiding and abetting a crime against humanity.”
“He generated and distributed propaganda that falsely vilified the targeted community to inflame public hatred against it,” the judge continued. The Uganda LBGTI umbrella organization “has set out plausibly that [Lively] worked with associates within Uganda to coordinate, implement, and legitimate ‘strategies to dehumanize, demonize, silence, and further criminalize the [Ugandan] LGBTI community.’” http://www.catholicculture.org/news/headlines/index.cfm?storyid=18758