Post submitted by Rebecca Parks, former Associate Director, HRC Global
In the stroke of great irony, MassEquality announced Independent Gubernatorial Candidate and notorious anti-LGBT activist Scott Lively will participate in a Gubernatorial Forum in Boston on March 25 alongside six candidates for governor. Although a recent poll showed that 76 percent of Massachusetts voters have never heard of Lively, his negative impact on LGBT rights around the world far outweighs his poll numbers.
Lively has a long history of making outrageous and offensive statements about LGBT people. Lively got his start as an anti-LGBT activist in Oregon in the 90s, where he was the communications director at Oregon Citizens Alliance, an organization that drummed up fear and hatred of LGBT people to pass local measures banning “special rights” for LGBT people at the county and municipal level. Lively was so aggressive in his tactics, that he was fined $31,000 for using unreasonable force to drag a journalist out of a meeting of the OCA. Lively is also the author of The Pink Swastika, a work of “history,” that purports that gay men are responsible for the Holocaust. The book throws the kitchen sink at LGBT people, blaming them for pornography, divorce, substance abuse, disease and violent crime.
Although even many of his own colleagues on the right consider Lively a radical fringe figure here in the United States, he has influence overseas, particularly in Eastern Europe and Africa. Lively began traveling to the former Soviet Union in 2007 when he launched a 50-city speaking tour, which included stops in Ukraine, Latvia and Russia itself. Lively now credits himself and his tour as the inspiration for the ban on LGBT “propaganda” passed by Russia in 2013. Lively considers this law, which has resulted in the arrest, intimidation or beating of dozens of LGBT Russians, a “model for the rest of the world.”
Lively’s most notorious work overseas came in Uganda. In 2009, Lively organized a conference in Kampala, Uganda to discuss the “dangers of homosexuality.” The entire Ugandan parliament was invited to hear him speak and he bragged of campaigning “like a nuclear bomb against the ‘gay’ agenda in Uganda.” Shortly after Lively’s visit, Parliament took up a law that would punish homosexuality with the death penalty. After years of debates and changes to the bill, it was enacted into law earlier this year, although punishment is now life in prison rather than the death penalty. Lively is now trying to backpedal from his support for the anti-homosexuality law, claiming that he opposes its harsh penalties, but the evidence is clear that he was one of its inspirations.
Despite the fact that he is campaigning for governor of Massachusetts, Lively found the time last month to travel to Washington, DC to announce the formation of the Coalition for Family Values, a new organization he created with Peter LaBarbera of Americans for the Truth About Homosexuality. Lively formed the organization because he feels that some members of the “pro-family movement” aren’t anti-LGBT enough! The goal of this coalition is to promote laws similar to the Russian propaganda ban all over the world under the guise of “protecting the children.”
Wherever Lively goes, intolerance, anti-LGBT laws and violence seem to follow. Stay tuned to the HRC Blog over the next few days for more information about Lively’s dangerous liaisons overseas and the questions he must answer for in the Mass Equality Gubernatorial Forum.