Ban lifted temporarily on lesbian film in Kenya

Rafiki

A judge in Nairobi, Kenya, has lifted a ban on the film Rafiki, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, and tells the story of two teenaged girls who fall in love despite the opposition of their parents and the local community.

Rafiki – the Swahili word for “friend” – was originally banned by the Kenyan Film Classification Board who claimed it “normalised” and “gloried” homosexuality.

In a statement the Board said: “The board firmly believes films should reflect the dominant values of the Kenyan people. Homosexuality does not qualify as such.”

However, the ban will only be lifted for seven days – the minimum period of time for a film to be considered a candidate for the foreign language Oscar.

Justice Wilfrida Okwany, who ordered the ban to be lifted, said: I am not convinced that Kenya is such a weak society that it cannot handle a gay theme. There are Kenyans who paid the ultimate price for the freedoms we enjoy today.”

The film opened in Nairobi on Sunday 23 September to packed houses.

Homosexuality is illegal in Kenya, with same-sex activity punishable by up to 12 years in prison.