STRUCK DOWN

With Major Court Loss In Uganda, Scott Lively’s Homophobic Export Strategy Is In Tatters

scott lively 2Things haven’t been going so well lately for the religious right. Even its leaders admit blocking marriage equality is a lost cause, and young people increasingly equate being Christian with being a homophobe. The one bright spot has been the success of evangelicals in exporting homophobia, particularly to Uganda and Russia.

That spot doesn’t look so bright any more. A court in Uganda has struck down the country’s “jail the gay” law, in a slap in the face to Uganda President Yoweri Museveni and the many U.S. religious right leaders who saw his country as a laboratory for antigay oppression.

The ruling is has a good news-bad news flavor to it. The good news is that the law is gone, at least for now. The bad news is that the court struck it down on technical grounds–Parliament didn’t have a quorum when the bill passed–and did not address whether it’s okay to jail gay people in the first place.

“We’re very happy,” said Sylvia Tamale, a Ugandan law professor and gay rights advocate, told The New York Times. “But it’s unfortunate that the court did not deal with the substantive issues that violate our rights.”

Not so happy: the Scott Livelys of the world, who have been making a living out of fanning antigay hatred in Uganda. Lively in particular has invested a lot of time and energy visiting the country, meeting with religious and political leaders, and feeding a steady stream of poison about the LGBT community. While he has denied supporting the original version of the Uganda law, which called for capital punishment, a Ugandan LGBT group is suing him in U.S. court for crimes against humanity for his role in enabling antigay violence to flourish in that country. 

With the court ruling, Lively is discovering that what he thought of as fertile ground may not be quite so fertile after all. Uganda has paid a price for its hatred, with the loss of some U.S. aid, though not nearly a steep a price as it might have. Museveni may decide that he’s made his point and just let the decision stand so he can blame it all on the courts.  He’s scheduled to meet with President Obama in Washington next week, so the ruling could be an easy way out of a situation that has clearly displeased Obama. 

Left hanging: Lively. His credibility–if you can call it that–depends upon his ability to point to successes elsewhere. Now he has one less (big) success to point to. Unfortunately, the viciousness that he helped unleash won’t vanish anytime soon.