A US judge has rejected the request of an American evangelical pastor accused of “crimes against humanity” to have the case dismissed, Pink News reports.
The suit against Scott Lively, filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) on behalf of Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), accuses the Abiding Truth Ministries president of waging a “decade-long campaign . . . in coordination with his Ugandan counterparts, to persecute persons on the basis of their gender and/or sexual orientation and gender identity.”
CCR said earlier in the year that this is the first known Alien Tort Statute (ATS) case to seek accountability for persecution on those bases.
The ATS provides federal jurisdiction for "any civil action alien, for a tort only, committed in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States,” the lawsuit states. "In other words, it allows a foreign national to sue in US courts for violations of US or international law conducted by US citizens overseas," CCR says, adding that the US Supreme Court has affirmed that ATS is a remedy for serious violations of international law norms that are 'widely accepted and clearly defined.'"
Judge Michael Ponsor’s ruling means the matter against Lively can move forward.
In the ruling, Ponsor said “widespread, systematic persecution of LGBTI people constitutes a crime against humanity that unquestionably violates international norms," the report says.
“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.”
Gay rights activist and SMUG director Frank Mugisha hailed the ruling as “a significant victory for human rights everywhere but most especially for LGBTI Ugandans who are seeking accountability from those orchestrating our persecution.”