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Kenya Bans Lesbian Movie Rafiki Before Cannes Premiere

Photo courtesy of Big World Cinema

Rafiki, Kenya’s first LGBT-themed movie which will make history in May by being the country's first film to show at the Cannes Film Festival, has been banned by the Kenyan government.

The Kenyan Film Classification Board announced in a statement on Thursday that Kafiki has been banned “due to its homosexual theme and clear intent to promote lesbianism in Kenya contrary to the law and dominant values of the Kenyans.”

"It is our considered view that the moral of the story in this film is to legitimize lesbianism in Kenya," the statement said.

"Any attempt to introduce and normalize homosexuality in Kenya flies in the face of the law and the constitution and must be resisted."

"Hare-brained schemes by foreigners funding film producers in Kenya to promote homosexuality in the name of equality and inclusion will be exposed and strongly resisted."

The board said that they met with director Wanuri Kahiu on April 16 and asked her to remove the film’s “offensive classifiable elements” and re-submit it, but that she later told them to go ahead and classify the original version.

Rafiki (meaning friend), is inspired by the 2007 Caine Prize winning short story "Jambula Tree" by Ugandan writer Monica Arac de Nyeko, about two teenage girls who fall in love and face an unforgiving community as a result.

Wanuri Kahiu shared her disappointment on Twitter, writing "We believe adult Kenyans are mature and discerning enough to watch local content but their right has been denied."

The Kenyan Penal Code criminalizes "carnal knowledge against the order of nature," with investigation by police and a possible 14 year prison sentence for anyone caught engaging in homosexual activities. A case challenging the criminalisation of homosexuality is currently being heard by the High Court.

The National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (NGLHRC) is arguing that denying LGBT people’s basic human rights by criminalising consensual same-sex relationships is unconstitutional. The Kenyan Constitution provides everyone the right to privacy, the right to dignity, and the right to be treated equally. In March, the NGLHRC won a landmark case appealing the use of forced anal examinations on men suspected of being homosexual.

#RafikiMovie #ArtsampEntertainment #LGBTRightsKenya