Kenyan 'Rafiki' film ban lifted for a week

Kenya Film Classification Board CEO Ezekiel Mutua /FILE

Kenya Film Classification Board CEO Ezekiel Mutua /FILE

The High Court on Friday temporarily lifted the ban on the film Rafiki which had been outlawed by the Kenya Film Classification Board for promoting lesbianism. Kahiu recently sued the board and its head Ezekiel Mutua over the ban.

After the ruling Mr Mutua said that it would be a tragedy and a shame to have homosexual films define the Kenyan culture.

In the film, directed, written and co-produced by Ms Kahiu, the girls are separated by their communities.

KFCB maintained that it believes films should reflect the dominant values of the Kenyan people, saying attempts to normalize homosexuality is 'akin to air conditioning hell'. "We are watching to see which public theatre will exhibit it without the Board's approval", said Mutua.

"I am not convinced that Kenya is such a weak society that its moral foundation will be shaken by seeing such a film", added Judge Okwanny according to a tweet sent out by Tamerra Griffin, the East African correspondent for Buzz Feed.

But its director Wanuri Kahiu said the regulations under which Rafiki was banned "are a threat to freedom of artistic creativity and freedom of the media".

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The suspension will lapse on September.

"This court notes that the choice by an adult on whether or not to watch a film can not be directed by the respondents or anyone for that matter", she ruled. "We have a freedom of expression clause in our constitution and we should not be discriminated against".

"In any event, the applicants have not stated that any Kenyan will be under any obligation to watch the film or that they will be forced to watch it against their will", she said.

The deadline for submission of entries in the 2019 Oscars is September 30 and for a movie to be submitted it has to have been screened in the originating county for a minimum of seven days.

The film, suspended in April by the Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB), is now permitted to be viewed in Kenya for seven days.

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