Ugandan activists challenge anti-gay law in court

The petitioners argue the law violates the constitutional right to privacy and dignity, as well as the right to be free from discrimination and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment/FILE

The petitioners argue the law violates the constitutional right to privacy and dignity, as well as the right to be free from discrimination and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment/FILE

KAMPALA, Mar 11 – Ugandan gay rights activists and politicians filed a challenge in court Tuesday to a tough new anti-gay law that has sparked international outrage and led to cuts in foreign aid.

“I believe it (the law) to be harmful, redundant, unnecessary, and inconsistent with the constitution,” said Fox Odoi an MP and one of the nine petitioners who submitted their appeal at Uganda’s constitutional court.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni last month signed a bill that calls for “repeat homosexuals” to be jailed for life, outlaws any promotion of homosexuality and requires people to report homosexuals.

The adoption of the bill was largely a popular move in conservative Uganda, where Museveni – a devout Christian who has been in power for 28 years – looks set to be re-elected in 2016. READ: Ugandan president signs anti-gay bill into law.

But the petitioners argue the law violates the constitutional right to privacy and dignity, as well as the right to be free from discrimination and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.

“This act not only represents an effort by the executive and parliament to scapegoat an unpopular minority for political gain, but we believe it also violates the highest law of our country,” said Andrew Mwenda, a journalist and one of the petitioners.

The activists are led by the Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law, which includes 50 Ugandan groups.

It said in a statement there had been several cases of “violence and retaliation” against known or suspected gays since the law was signed.

The coalition said it had documented 10 arrests of known or suspected gays, and at least three cases of landlords evicting tenants.

The petition also requested a permanent injunction against media outlets identifying gay or suspected gay people, after newspapers listed people they said were homosexuals.

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