The Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) CEO Ezekiel Mutua has banned a Kenyan film over claims that its content promote lesbianism.
The film, Rafiki, by Wanuri Kahiu, which will premier next month at Cannes, is an LGBT love story of two teenage girls who develop a romance that’s opposed by their families and community.
On Friday the KFCB boss issued a statement saying the movie’s depiction of homosexual practice run counter to the laws and the culture of Kenyan people.
“It is our considered view that the moral of the story in this film is to legitimize lesbianism in Kenya contrary to the law and the board’s content classification guidelines,” Mutua’s statement read in part.
The film was adapted from the short story Jambula Tree by Uganda’s Monica Arac de Nyeko, which was awarded the prestigious Caine Prize for African Writing in 2007.
Kahiu has termed the ban as incredibly disappointing.
“Unfortunately, our film has been censored in Kenya, because it deals with matters that are uncomfortable for the Kenya Film Classification Board. But I truly believe that an adult Kenyan audience is mature and discerning enough to be able to watch this film and have their own conversation,” she said.
In an earlier interview with Nairobi News, Kahiu said they wanted to tell a modern African story based on modern African literature.
“I believe it takes all types of people to make a world, to make a country, to make a community. As storytellers it is important to speak about the diverse and complicated stories of our society,” she said at the time.
The ban marks the latest move in an ongoing crackdown on LGBT content in Kenya, where homosexuality is illegal.
The film board last year banned the Disney Channel’s Andi Mack after it was revealed that the show’s second season would feature a key character realizing he’s gay.
It had earlier pressured South African Pay-TV MultiChoice to pull seven cartoons from the airwaves, because of what Mutua described as “retrogressive and bizarre messages intended to promote homosexual agenda.”
Last week, during an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, President Uhuru Kenyatta stated that gay rights were of no importance and unacceptable in Kenya.