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Ugandan activists challenge anti-gay law in court

Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni enacted the law.

Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni enacted the law.

KAMPALA, Uganda — Rights activists petitioned Uganda’s Constitutional Court Tuesday to challenge the validity of an antigay measure that allows severe penalties against homosexuality.

The activists — under a group called Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law — hope the court will agree the new law violates Uganda’s constitution by encouraging discrimination based on sexual orientation.

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The group has asked the judges to issue an interim order ‘‘stopping the police from implementing’’ the antigay law, said Nicholas Opiyo, a Ugandan lawyer who helped to draft the petition.

It also seeks an order barring local tabloid newspapers from printing the names and pictures of known or suspected homosexuals, a key concern for activists in a country where homosexuals report severe discrimination.

Opiyo said it will probably take several months, even years, before judges reach a final decision in the case challenging the antigay law, because the court has many other cases before it.

Uganda’s president, Yoweri Museveni, enacted the law last month.

The legislation allows life imprisonment for those convicted of engaging in gay sex.

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