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Uganda gay activists sue US pastor

By AFP

KAMPALA (AFP) - Ugandan gay rights activists have sued a US pastor, accusing him of contributing to a campaign to persecute homosexuals in the east African country, an activist said Friday.

Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) filed suit against Scott Lively of the Abiding Truth Ministries on Wednesday at a Massachusetts court, claiming he pushed Ugandan officials to crack down on homosexuals.

"We are suing him for conspiring with Ugandan officials to draw up anti-homosexual legislation and for spreading propaganda that led to (gay) people suffering harassment and violence," said SMUG director Frank Mugisha.

The suit was filed on behalf of SMUG by the US-based Center for Constitutional Rights under the Alien Tort Claims Act, a statute in US law that allows Americans or people with a link to the US to be sued in a US court for crimes allegedly committed elsewhere.

The complaint names David Bahati, the Ugandan lawmaker behind a controversial anti-gay bill calling for draconian penalties against homosexuals, and former ethics minister James Buturo as some of those in Uganda who conspired with Lively.

Lively, the author of the book "The Pink Swastika", which details claims of widespread homosexuality in the Nazi party, was one of a number of US preachers who addressed a 2009 anti-gay conference in Uganda shortly before Bahati's bill was introduced.

"He was the main speaker at the conference and he said there was a gay agenda to recruit children and promote gay lifestyles to undermine traditional African family values," Mugisha said.

The anti-gay bill was recently reintroduced to parliament after lawmakers failed to discuss it during the legislative body's last session, but the bill's sponsor says he intends to drop the death penalty for some homosexual acts.