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Kenya bans LGBT film set to premiere at Cannes because it features a same-sex couple

The movie features two women falling in love

By Fabio Crispim

Kenya has banned an LGBT film set to debut at the Cannes Film Festival simply because it features a same-sex couple. 

Rafiki, which means “friend” in KiSwahili, will be the first ever Kenyan movie to premiere at the film festival but has been banned in the country because it features two Kenyan girls falling in love and “promotes lesbianism”. 

Although it’s received critical success outside the country, the Kenyan Film Classification Board (KFCB) revealed on Twitter yesterday (April 27) that they had made the decision to ban the distribution of the film across the country. 

They wrote: “‘Rafiki’ should NOT be distributed, exhibited or broadcast within the Republic of Kenya. Anyone found in its possession will be in breach of the law.”

Soon after, KFCB spokesperson Nelly Muluka said: “Our culture and laws recognise family as the basic unit of society. We cannot, therefore, allow lesbian content to be accessed by children in Kenya.”

Speaking to Reuters, Rafiki’s director Wanuri Kahiu slammed the decision, saying: “I’m really disappointed because Kenyans already have access to watch films that have LGBT content, on Netflix, and in international films shown in Kenya and permitted by the classification board itself.”

She continued: “So to then just ban a Kenyan film because it deals with something already happening in society just seems like a contradiction.”  

The official synopsis for the film, an adaption of Jambula Tree by Monica Arac de Nyko, reads: “Kena and Ziki long for something more. Despite the political rivalry between their families, the girls resist and remain close friends, supporting each other to pursue their dreams in a conservative society.

“When love blossoms between them, the two girls will be forced to choose between happiness and safety.”

Rafiki will still debut at the Cannes Film Festival next month. You can watch the trailer for the movie below: