Sexual Minorities Uganda Submits Extensive Documentation of Anti-Gay Persecution in Uganda and Role of Scott Lively and Ugandan Actors in Propelling It: Filing follows violent police raid of gay pride event in Uganda

Contact: press@ccrjustice.org

August 10, 2016, New York – Yesterday, Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) submitted a filing in federal court documenting the widespread and systematic persecution of LGBTQI people in Uganda and the key role that Scott Lively played alongside Ugandan actors in bringing it about. The evidence was submitted in connection with SMUG’s lawsuit against the U.S.-based anti-gay extremist charging him with conspiring to persecute the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex community in Uganda. Yesterday’s filing responds to Lively’s motion for summary judgment, filed last month.

Said SMUG Executive Director Frank Mugisha, “The overwhelming evidence we submitted confirms what we have been saying – that persecution is happening here and Scott Lively worked with other actors in Uganda to deprive us of our fundamental human rights. The Minister of Ethics says we are un-Ugandan and influenced by foreign forces, but we have always been here and a part of Ugandan society; the evidence in this case shows how Ugandan officials have been heavily influenced by Western actors.”

The filing comes just days after Mugisha and other LGBTQI leaders and activists were arrested and assaulted by the police during a raid on a Gay Pride event in Kampala. The police detained and physically assaulted others at the venue, and particularly targeted transgender attendees, taking pictures of them and mocking them. One person jumped out of a window to escape police abuse and suffered serious injury. The raid was indicative of the repression and violence LGBTQI Ugandans face all of the time.

“SMUG and the LGBTQI community in Uganda are courageously resisting the efforts to erase them,” said CCR Senior Staff Attorney Pam Spees. “The evidence submitted, most of it from Lively’s own words, shows how he and his close associates worked to criminalize not just their existence but every possibility of advocating for their right to exist.”

“As attacks against Uganda’s LGBTQI community continue, it’s important that the international community recognize how the efforts to dehumanize the LGBTQI community in Uganda are not entirely home-grown,” said Rutgers Law professor and Center for Constitutional Rights co-counsel Jeena Shah. “Lively himself has specifically written about the need to stop what he called the ‘destructive propaganda efforts of groups like SMUG’ and has long advised banning gay pride events in particular, in his work with his Ugandan counterparts.”  

The lawsuit against Lively was filed in March 2012. SMUG is suing him for his involvement in a conspiracy with Ugandan anti-gay leaders to systematically deprive the LGBTQI community of their fundamental rights in violation of international law. The case affirmed an important legal precedent when the court ruled, in a historic decision denying Lively’s motion to dismiss, that persecution on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity is a crime against humanity – a serious crime under international law.

The summary judgment hearing before Judge Ponsor is scheduled for September 14, 2016 at 11:00am EST in Hampden Courtroom in Springfield, Massachusetts.

To learn more and read today’s filing, visit CCR’s case page.

Sexual Minorities Uganda is represented by Center for Constitutional Rights and Jeena Shah of the International Human Rights Clinic at Rutgers Law School in Newark, the law firm of Dorsey & Whitney, LLP, Christopher Betke, Luke Ryan, and Judith Chomsky.

Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) is non-profit umbrella organization for LGBTQI advocacy groups in Uganda. SMUG was founded in 2004 and the network currently comprises 18 organizations in Uganda offering counseling, health, and other services, to the LGBTQI community. As an umbrella entity, SMUG also works closely with international human rights organizations to bring attention to the persecution of LGBTI people in Uganda.


The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.

Last modified 

August 10, 2016