Preacher Scott Lively on trial for role in Uganda anti-gay law

Uganda's anti-gay law has been declared "null and void", but US pastor Scott Lively is facing a lawsuit for his role in encouraging persecution.Reuters

Anti-gay preacher Scott Lively will face trial for crimes against humanity for his role in influencing the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Act (AHA).

A Boston Court of Appeals last week denied Lively's petition to have the case dismissed. It will now proceed in federal court.

Lively, who is president of Abiding Truth Ministries, recently described homosexuality as an "infection" and worse than mass murder. He has also accused gay people of being "agents of America's moral decline," and co-authored 'The Pink Swastika', a book which contends that "homosexuals [are] the true inventors of Nazism and the guiding force behind many Nazi atrocities."

A lawsuit was originally filed against Lively in March 2012 by the Centre for Constitutional Rights (CCR) on behalf of umbrella advocacy group Sexual Minorities Uganda. He is accused of direct involvement in anti-gay efforts in Uganda and therefore of aiding persecution – a violation of international law.

Of particular concern was a visit to Uganda in 2009, during which Lively addressed influential leaders and spoke on what he calls "the gay agenda".

In 2012, Lively defended himself, saying: "I've never done anything in Uganda except preach the Gospel and speak my opinion about the homosexual issue."

Lawyer Pamela C Spees of the CCR said that the case is "not just based on his speech".

"It's based on his conduct," she said. "Belief is one thing, but actively trying to harm and deprive other people of their rights is the definition of persecution."

The AHA came into force in Uganda in March of this year, and human rights organisations such as Amnesty subsequently documented a sharp increase in arbitrary arrests, police abuse and extortion against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex people.

However, though the African nation's penal code continues to criminalise "carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature", Uganda's Constitutional Court ruled in August that the Act was "null and void" because not enough representatives were in the room for the vote when it was passed by parliament in December 2013.

Several other Christian leaders have recently faced criticism for anti-gay comments. Pastor Logan Robertson of the Westcity Bible Baptist Church in New Zealand said this week that all gay people "should be put to death" and told a gay Christian author that he was praying for him to commit suicide.

Protests have also been held against Steven Anderson of the Faithful Word Baptist Church in Arizona who gave a sermon on November 30 in which he accused all gay people of paedophilia, and said executing gay people was a God-sanctioned way to rid the world of AIDS.