Ugandan rights activists and politicians have filed a legal challenge to overturn a tough anti-gay law condemned by Western donors.

The law violated the rights of gay people and subjected them to “cruel and inhuman punishment”, they said.

Several cases of “violence and retaliation” have been reported since President Yoweri Museveni signed the law last month, the activists added.

Uganda is a deeply conservative society where many people oppose gay rights.

However, some people are beginning to question whether punishments proposed in the law are too harsh, reports BBC Uganda correspondent Catherine Byaruhanga.

It allows life imprisonment as the penalty for acts of “aggravated homosexuality” and also criminalises the “promotion of homosexuality”.

‘Tenants evicted’
The Civil Society Coalition on Human Rights and Constitutional Law, which represents about 50 groups, filed the petition in the Constitutional Court, asking for the law to be annulled.
Ruling party MP Fox Odoi, who is Mr Museveni’s former legal adviser, was among the lead petitioners.

Uganda’s anti-homosexuality act

Life imprisonment for gay sex, including oral sex
Life imprisonment for “aggravated homosexuality”, including sex with a minor or while HIV-positive
Life imprisonment for living in a same-sex marriage
Seven years for “attempting to commit homosexuality”
Between five and seven years in jail or a $40,700 (£24,500) fine or both for the promotion of homosexuality
Businesses or non-governmental organisations found guilty of the promotion of homosexuality would have their certificates of registration cancelled and directors could face seven years in jail
He broke ranks with his party by opposing the law in parliament, and said he did not fear a backlash from voters in the 2016 election, our reporter says.

“I don’t fear losing an election. There is only one thing I fear – living in a society that has no room for minorities. I will not live in a society that doesn’t respect and protect people who are different from the majority,” Mr Odoi said.

Prominent Ugandan journalist Andrew Mwenda also supported the court action.

“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,” he said.