Sexual Minorities Uganda v. Scott Lively

At a Glance

Date Filed: 

March 14, 2012

Current Status 

The case is in summary judgment briefing through Summer 2016, with oral argument on October 5, 2016 at the U.S. District Court in Springfield, MA.

Co-Counsel 

Jeena Shah, Dorsey & Whitney, Luke Ryan, Christopher Betke, Judith Brown Chomsky

Client(s) 

Case Description 

SMUG v. Lively is a federal lawsuit in which CCR represents Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), a non-profit LGBTI advocacy organization in Uganda. SMUG is suing Scott Lively, a U.S.-based anti-gay extremist, for his role in the persecution of LGBTI people in Uganda, in particular his active participation in the conspiracy to strip away their fundamental rights. The case is part of CCR’s cutting edge international human rights work and groundbreaking efforts to protect and expand rights under the area of law related to the Alien Tort Statute (ATS) and continues CCR's historic early work defending LGBTI rights.

Case Timeline

August 8, 2016
SMUG opposes Lively's motion for summary judgment
August 8, 2016
SMUG opposes Lively's motion for summary judgment
SMUG files an opposition to Lively's July 5, 2016 motion for summary judgment. SMUG details the evidence of Lively’s carefully crafted conspiracy to persecute LGBTI Ugandans, and the devastating effect it has had on the community. Consisting of his emails with co-conspirators, his own writings, videos, and testimony, the evidence paints a harrowing picture of persecution in motion. The summary judgment hearing before Judge Ponsor is scheduled for October 5, 2016 at 11:00am EST in Hampden Courtroom in Springfield, Massachusetts.
May 22, 2016
SMUG releases expert reports
May 22, 2016
SMUG releases expert reports
On November 2, 2015, SMUG produces to the defense three expert reports by Prof. M. Cherif Bassiouni, Dr. Jennifer Leaning, and Dr. Ilan H. Meyer. On March 15, 2016, Lively produces one expert report by Grover Joseph Rees. The parties complete expert depositions by May 19, 2016, and SMUG releases its reports on May 22. Taken together, SMUG's expert reports confirm what the LGBTI community in Uganda has long known: the persecution of this community is happening, the harm is already being felt, and the persecution that is occurring constitutes a crime against humanity, one of the world’s most universally condemned crimes.
Fall 2014 - Fall 2015
Parties are in discovery
Fall 2014 - Fall 2015
Parties are in discovery
The discovery phase is underway, with both sides exchanging documents, taking depositions, and filing various discovery-related motions before the court.
April 24, 2015
Courts grants SMUG's motion to subpoena Martin Ssempa
April 24, 2015
Courts grants SMUG's motion to subpoena Martin Ssempa
The court allows SMUG to subpoena Martin Ssempa, a U.S. citizen living in Uganda, to testify. Ssempa is a pastor who was a key instigator and proponent of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill in Uganda and is well-known for his vitriolic anti-gay speech. He has known and worked with Lively since at least 2002.
April 9, 2015

Sexual Minorities Uganda files motion asking court to subpoena Martin Ssempa

April 9, 2015

Sexual Minorities Uganda files motion asking court to subpoena Martin Ssempa

December 4, 2014
First Circuit Court denies Lively's petition for writ of mandamus
December 4, 2014
First Circuit Court denies Lively's petition for writ of mandamus
The First Circuit Court of Appeals denies Lively's petition for a writ of mandamus.
December 5, 2013

Lively files petition for writ of mandamus

December 5, 2013

Lively files petition for writ of mandamus

Lively files a petition requesting that the First Circuit Court of Appeals issue a writ of mandamus directing the District Court to vacate its order denying Lively’s motion to dismiss. A writ of mandamus is granted only in extraordinary circumstances. The next day, his legal team also files a motion with the District Court to stay the case, pending the First Circuit’s review of the writ petition. The District Court denies the defendant’s motion for a stay, allowing the discovery phase to proceed.
November 20, 2013

Lively files his answer to SMUG’s complaint

November 20, 2013

Lively files his answer to SMUG’s complaint

Per the court's scheduling order, Lively files his responses to the allegations in SMUG's complaint.

Fall 2013

Lively files series of motions seeking leave to file appeal of order denying his motion to dismiss

Fall 2013

Lively files series of motions seeking leave to file appeal of order denying his motion to dismiss

Lively's attorneys move to have the District Court certify an interlocutory appeal of its order on the motion to dismiss. The District Court denies his motion for certification, noting that an interim appeal would be improper given the need for discovery and the lack of a substantial question of law that would justify review before the appellate court. Lively files another motion, asking the District Court to reconsider its order denying certification for an interlocutory appeal. The court denies Lively's motion for reconsideration. The parties subsequently appear before the District Court for a scheduling conference, on November 6, 2013, to set the timeline for the pre-trial phase of the case.
August 14, 2013
Court denies Lively's motion to dismiss
August 14, 2013
Court denies Lively's motion to dismiss

The court issues a memorandum and order denying the defendant's motion to dismiss and referring the case for pre-trial scheduling. In a historic decision, the court rules that persecution on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity is a crime against humanity and that the fundamental human rights of LGBTI people are protected under international law.

April 2013

Lively files notice of supplemental authority in support of his motion to dismiss; in turn, SMUG files response to defendant's notice regarding Kiobel

April 2013

Lively files notice of supplemental authority in support of his motion to dismiss; in turn, SMUG files response to defendant's notice regarding Kiobel

January 7, 2013
Court hears arguments on Lively's motion to dismiss
January 7, 2013
Court hears arguments on Lively's motion to dismiss

Supporters and allies pack the court for oral argument on Lively's motion to dismiss the case. Lively's attorneys argue that his activity in Uganda is protected under the First Amendment. SMUG's counsel argues that Lively’s conduct went well beyond the exercise of his First Amendment rights when he began to work to criminalize organizations like SMUG and to remove fundamental civil rights from LGBTI people, including their right to free speech and assembly.

A delegation of Ugandan LGBTI activists attends the hearing alongside local allies and supporters.

May 2012

Parties file briefs on Lively's motion to stay case pending SCOTUS decision in Kiobel

May 2012

Parties file briefs on Lively's motion to stay case pending SCOTUS decision in Kiobel

Represented by Liberty Counsel, Lively files a motion to stay the case pending the outcome of the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Shell, a case also brought under the ATS. SMUG files its opposition to the motion, and the court subsequently denies Lively's motion to stay the case on June 1, 2012, ordering him to answer or otherwise respond to the complaint.

March 14, 2012
SMUG files federal lawsuit against Scott Lively
March 14, 2012
SMUG files federal lawsuit against Scott Lively
SMUG files a complaint against Scott Lively detailing his active role in the conspiracy to persecute LGBTI people in Uganda. SMUG later amended its complaint on July 13, 2012.