Lively, author of The Pink Swastika, a book which claims that homosexuals are the “true inventors” of Nazism, was initially invited to speak in opposition to last Thursday’s motion, ‘This house would be glad to have gay parents’, but appeared to withdraw from the debate at the last moment.
On the day of the debate, Lively said that this was the case, and described current President Maria Rioumine and President-Elect Joseph D’Urso as “fine young people” after “stepping up to save the situation” by arranging a special event for February 1st.
However, on Wednesday, Lively suggested that “this report was not true”. He said: “I was asked by Joseph D’Urso to go along with that mischaracterisation of events after he and Maria Rioumine promised to make things right by setting up a special event for me on the 1st February or rescheduling me for a new debate during his term of office.
“In point of fact, the Oxford Union completely botched my part in the debate by inviting me for January 31st and not the 17th, and failed to correct their error in subsequent email exchanges referencing the 31st as the date of my appearance.”
He added: “Indeed, their letter confirming my role in the debate clearly identified the 31st as the date of the debate.”
Lively’s consent form for the debate, seen by The Oxford Student, clearly states: “Thank you for agreeing to speak in a debate at the Union on January 31st 2013.”
Lively, who describes himself as “one of the most controversial figures in the public debate over homosexuality and its place in modern society” went on to say: “Subsequent to that confirmation I changed my existing speaking and travel schedule to include a four day stop in England for myself and my wife, and made other appointments and plans, at considerable expense and inconvenience.”
He added: “Yesterday I received a joint telephone call from Mr D’Urso and someone named Tina, informing me that the Union has no intention of making good on its promise.
“I advised the two of them that I cannot change my travel schedule at this time. Indeed, I have since been informed by my travel agent that it would cost upwards of $2,800 to change my flight plans.”
Lively claims to have expressed willingness to accept an alternative arrangement: “I told the Union leadership that for the sake of my supporters (who donated money to send me to Oxford for this event) I would be willing to accept any sort of substitute appearance.
“Today they insisted that even the most minimal of efforts of their part is ‘logistically impossible’.”
Nonetheless, Lively said “It is still my intention and desire to speak on the 1st.”
“They also decline to assume any responsibility for any part of my financial losses caused by their negligence and claim to have already sought legal counsel about whether they can be held liable,” he added.
Both D’Urso and the Union declined to comment on any of Lively’s claims about being asked to go along with a mischaracterised version of events and being led to believe that he could speak at a different event. However a Union spokesperson did say: “There was a scheduling issue with Dr Lively’s appearance at the Union on January 17th, and we have apologised for our part in this miscommunication.”
This is the second time in as many weeks that the process of inviting speakers for the Gay Rights Debate has brought the Union under scrutiny. Last week The Oxford Student revealed that the Union scapegoated a junior official after withdrawing an invitation asking BNP leader Nick Griffin to speak on the opposition side.
Members of Oxford’s LGBTQ community were critical of the decision to invite Lively in the first place. Matthew Wigens, LGBTQ rep for St Catherine’s JCR said: “The Union should seek to invite credible speakers on a subject.
“To invite a speaker whose views are so blatantly founded in hatred and whose irresponsible dissemination of falsehoods in Uganda may result in the murder of homosexual people is outrageous. The Union has a responsibility to maintain their credibility as a forum for intellectual debate, which this invite flouted.”