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March 20, 2014

Anti-Gay Activist Marches in Boston St. Patrick’s Day Parade

By Simone Salvo

As St. Patrick’s Day festivities this year were again steeped in predictable controversy, the annual parade in Boston was particularly, uh, lively. While big-name sponsor Sam Adams and political figures such as Mayor Marty Walsh sat out of Boston’s parade after organizers rescinded their invitation to LGBT rights group Mass Equality, anti-gay Pastor Scott Lively participated, praising organizers for not bending on “family values” and thanked God they have the constitutional right to “exclude anyone they please.”

The Boson Parade, which celebrates the Irish legacy of rising up against oppression, also carries forth the spirit of Evacuation Day by recognizing veterans that band together for the sake of freedom.  If any participant were to interfere with the integrity of an event celebrating freedom from oppression, it would be Lively, who is due to stand trial for crimes against humanity—not members of the LGBT community.

Even Irish religious leaders can agree that Boston parade organizers are on the wrong side of history. Last month Catholic Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin denounced homophobia, saying, "Anybody who doesn't show love towards gay and lesbian people is insulting God," and that homophobia was "part of the culture we grew up in, but we have to grow out of it."

Here in the United States, where the soil doesn’t take quite as easily to the seeds of evangelical extremism, Lively is seen mostly as a caricature. But his crusade against LGBT equality abroad is no joking matter.

He counts Russia’s anti-gay propaganda law among the “proudest achievements” of his career. In 2006 and 2007 Lively traveled on a 50-city tour through the Russian Federation and the former Soviet states to promote anti-gay legislation to decry the LGBT rights movement as the “most dangerous political movement in the world.” Lively claims his influence reached lawmakers on a regional level, thus inspiring the June 2013 federal law banning “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations.”

Since the propaganda law went into effect, legislators from Eastern Europe to Central Asia have begun to emulate the Russian Duma by introducing nearly identical versions of the law in their legislative bodies.  We continue to stand with the global LGBT community and urge the United States to continue to show leadership in promoting LGBT rights as human rights.