Inigo Gilmore meets US pastor Scott Lively, one of a group of Americans thought to have influenced a new law in Uganda which carries some of the harshest penalties in the world for openly gay people.
Warning: some people may find the views expressed in this article and the accompanying video offensive
Watching evangelical minister Scott Lively participate in an election hustings run by a gay rights group, he was clearly an awkward fit. Sitting among eight candidates standing to be governor of Massachusetts, his pointed comments about homosexuals drew shrill cries of derision and ridicule.
Massachusetts is one of America’s most liberal states, and Dr Lively is running on a fiercely anti-gay platform. Turning up at the hustings event in Boston last week, it was like he was walking into the lions’ den, but he appeared to revel in the scorn heaped upon him.
It was a very different reception when he took his anti-gay message to Uganda, a country he has visited for more than 10 years. In Uganda he has cultivated ties to influential religious and political leaders.
Just before the first draft of Uganda’s anti-gay bill began circulating in April 2009, Dr Lively travelled to Kampala and gave a lengthy presentation at a conference and in parliament, which his growing band of international critics say was instrumental in paving the way for the harsh, draconian anti-gay measures recently signed into law by President Yoweri Museveni.
Watching the hours of video of that March 2009 conference – billed as exposing the gay agenda – Dr Lively appears to be a man on a mission. He said the gay movement was an “evil institution” that sought to “defeat the marriage-based society” and replace it “with a culture of sexual promiscuity”.
The Nazis were super machos. You see them in prisons… Men having sex with boys and other men, usually in some sort of aggressive way. Dr Scott Lively
At one point he wrote on a board “Causes and Types of Homosexual Dysfunction”, and went on to list various categories of gay men. On one side, there were what Lively called “super machos” and “monsters”.
“The Nazis were super machos,” he said. “You see them in prisons… Brutish, brutish, animalistic, men that want to hurt other people… Men having sex with boys and other men, usually in some sort of aggressive way.”
Moving on to the group he labels as “monsters”, Lively continued: “They are so far from normalcy, that they’re killers. They’re serial killers, mass murderers. They’re sociopaths. there’s no mercy at all.”
While pointing to the “monster” tag on the board he added: “This is the kind of person it takes to run a gas chamber.” He then went on to say that the genocide in neighbouring Rwanda “probably involved these guys”.
This key conference was filmed by the Reverend Dr Kapya Kaoma, a Zambian Anglian priest who was appalled by what he witnessed. Now based in Boston, Kaoma told me that a week after the conference Lively gave a separate five-hour briefing to the Ugandan parliament, and the following week some MPs said it was time for a new anti-gay law.
Kaoma, now working for Political Research Associates, argues that Dr Lively stirred up anti-gay hatred in Uganda through his inflammatory rhetoric about gays and his suggestions that they were coming to target young boys.
“Scott Lively plays a very important role,” he told me, referring to the spreading of his message and new legislation. “In Uganda Scott Lively brought the narrative that there is a movement to recruit young people into homosexuality. That is now the reason why there is the new law.”
I met Dr Lively just before he gave his talk in Boston this week. During a testy one-hour exchange, I asked who are the “gay agenda” people linked to Uganda that he spoke of. He said: “I am not pointing fingers at anybody. What I talk about is public policy.”
As I attempted to get him to explain his views and his controversial comments, Dr Lively accused me of “gotcha journalism”, saying that, like other journalists, I had taken his comments out of context and that I was driven by a “leftist” agenda.
Dr Lively said he had “mixed feelings” about the new laws and denied he had any influence on shaping the harshest measures.
But I repeatedly challenged him on some of his controversial comments. Pointing out that Uganda was a neighbour of Rwanda, I asked if he did not recognise that Ugandans could be vulnerable when it comes to hearing a message that gay “monsters’ were linked to Rwandan genocide, and asked him whether he recognised that such claims were inflammatory.
He again accused me of taking his comments from the conference out of context, so I played the clip in question to him.
“You said: ‘It probably involved these guys’,” I pointed out, in reference to where he linked gay “monsters” to the Rwandan genocide.
Dr Lively replied that he was referring to a “very small group of people” in the “monster” bracket. When I again pointed out that it would be considered inflammatory to label some gays as “monsters”, he replied: “Some of them are.”
I continued: “You’re saying that they are bestial, that they are animalistic.” He again replied:”Some of them are.”
During our interview, Dr Lively insisted that rather than inflaming tensions, he had succeeded in tempering anger against the gay community in Uganda by pushing for therapy for them.
He said he had “mixed feelings” about the new laws, arguing that he was against some of the draconian measures that were recently introduced and denied he had any influence on shaping the harshest measures.
After repeatedly pushing him on the issue of his opinions and the impact he has had, he said: “What you want to do is inflame, inflame the far left. What you are doing is propaganda.
“I’m not going to put up with this. I’m not going to let you put me in a box where you characterise my Bible-based views and historical record as some kind of inflammatory rhetoric designed to cause genocide.”
When I went on to point out that the President Obama is “wholeheartedly” against this legislation, Dr Lively chuckled and said: “I think Obama may as well be a homosexual himself. He is certainly a radical homosexualist – meaning a person, whether they are homosexual or not, meaning a person who is 100 per cent invested in the homosexual agenda.”
Rather perplexed by his unexpected comment, I said; “So you think Obama is a homosexual?” He replied: “I think he may be.”
I asked Dr Lively what his view was based upon and he referred to an article on an online site, World Net Daily. When I asked if he thought President Obama was part of the gay agenda, he replied: “Anyone who is trying to break down the protections for the natural family and legitimize sexual perversion is complicit in the recruitment of children.”
I asked: “How is President Obama supposed to do that?” He said that the president was supporting gay activists behind “a destructive homosexual agenda”. He stated: “Well, he (Obama) is lending the weight of his office to a movement that’s goal is to overturn the Judeo-Christian sexual ethic and replace it with the gay ethic of sexual anarchy. That’s what he’s doing.”
Dr Lively’s opinions are often greeted with derision, even abuse, in liberal America. Yet this same man was heralded as an important scholar in Uganda, who influenced some of most draconian anti-gay laws in the world – laws now denounced for inflaming hatred and stirring persecution.
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