Kenya Bans 1st Cannes Film Over 'Lesbianism'

Director Wanuri Kahiu ran afoul of her nation's laws on homosexuality
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 27, 2018 2:35 PM CDT
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Wanuri Kahiu, the director of the film "Rafiki," or "Friend" in Swahili, stands by an art installation in Nairobi, Kenya.   (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)

(Newser) – Kenya has banned its first feature film to premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, accusing it of having "clear intent to promote lesbianism in Kenya contrary to the law," reports the AP. Director Wanuri Kahiu says she is "incredibly sorry" to confirm the ban of Rafiki, or Friend, by the Kenya Film Classification Board. Her film depicts a love story between two women. In Kenya, gay sex can be punished by up to 14 years in prison. In fact, many countries across Africa have laws against homosexuality, with people facing severe harassment and physical threats. Gay rights are "not of any major importance" in Kenya, President Uhuru Kenyatta told CNN in an interview earlier this month.

Director Kahiu has said in earlier interviews she had been nervous about the film's reception in Kenya but found support from government authorities and the local film industry. But on Friday, the film board accused producers of changing the original script that was licensed for production and said it "shall pursue the legal means to hold them accountable." The original script didn't have romantic scenes between the female actors, the board said. "It is our considered view that the moral of the story in this film is to legitimize lesbianism in Kenya," the board's 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."


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