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Kenyan authorities on Thursday banned a documentary about two gay lovers, calling it “unacceptable and an affront to (the) culture and identity” of a deeply Christian country that has long criminalized homosexuality.
Directed by a Kenyan filmmaker, “I Am Samuel” depicts a romantic relationship between two men living in Nairobi and has aroused the wrath of censors across the country for promoting “same-sex marriage as an acceptable way of life”.
The Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) said the documentary sought to propagate “values that are at odds with our constitution, our cultural values and our norms.”
“Worse yet, the production devalues Christianity as two gay men in the film claim to be celebrating a religious marriage by invoking the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,” KFCB boss Christopher Wambua said in a statement. press release, declaring it “blasphemous”.
“Any attempt to exhibit, distribute, broadcast or possess the Restricted Film within the Republic of Kenya will therefore be subject to the full force of law.”
Homosexuality is taboo in much of Africa, and homosexuals often face discrimination or persecution.
Attempts to overturn British colonial-era laws banning homosexuality in Kenya have proved unsuccessful, and gay sex remains a punishable crime with sentences of up to 14 years in prison.
“I Am Samuel” is the second gay-themed film to be banned in Kenya, following a 2018 decision to ban cinemas from showing “Rafiki,” a lesbian love story that became the first Kenyan film to be released. previewed at the Cannes Film Festival.
The ban on “Rafiki” (“friend” in Swahili) was later overturned by a court and the film was sold out in Nairobi.
“I Am Samuel” director Peter Murimi told AFP in an interview last October that he didn’t expect the documentary to do well with Kenyan censors.
He described the film as “very nuanced, it’s very balanced, it’s the story of a family struggling with this problem, having a homosexual son.”
“So we will do our best and I hope Kenyans see it and that is what we want,” he said.
The documentary, which has been shown at several film festivals and available for rental online, is also supported by “Rafiki” director Wanuri Kahiu.
“We change people through conversation, not through censorship,” she tweeted in response to the announcement of the ban, citing hip-hop star Jay Z.
© 2021 AFP