Sheila Munyiva and Samantha Mugatsia
Sheila Munyiva and Samantha Mugatsia

Kenya Court lifts ban on lesbian film 'Rafiki'

ANI | Updated: Sep 22, 2018 20:32 IST

Washington D.C. [USA], Sep 22 (ANI): A Kenyan High Court has temporarily lifted the ban on a lesbian love story titled 'Rafiki', thus giving the movie a chance to qualify for the 'foreign language film' category at the 91st Oscars.
Judge Wilfrida Okwany recently ruled that the film can be screened until September 30 to make it eligible for Oscars, reported The Hollywood Reporter.
"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," she said in her decision. It will be given an over-18 rating.
The flick had premiered in the Cannes Film Festival this year and had been banned by the country's film classification board for promoting homosexuality, which is illegal in the country.
After the ruling, the board still stood firmly in opposition to the film and released a statement, saying that the film is "an attempt to normalize homosexuality" and calling the decision as "air conditioning hell."
"It is a sad moment and a great insult, not only to the film industry, but to all Kenyans who stand for morality, that a film that glories homosexuality is allowed to be the country's branding tool abroad. The board firmly believes that films should reflect the dominant values of the Kenyan people. Homosexuality does not qualify as such," it said.
The board also added that it hasn't been formally notified of the ruling, but will abide by it once it is official.
The director of the film had filed a suit against film board president Ezekiel Mutua and Kenyan attorney general Paul Kihara in order to give the film a chance to qualify at Oscar.
Mutua stated that the film was different from the original script which was approved by the board, while Kahiu opposed that the script had not been altered. She claimed that Mutua had asked her to change the ending of the film to make it "less hopeful," and banned the film when she refused to meet the demands.
'Rafiki' follows the story of two girls who become friends and fall in love with each other, but faced disapproval and physical violence from their society.
The film is directed by Wanuri Kahiu and stars Samantha Mugatsia and Sheila Munyiva. (ANI)