Kenya censors gay documentary, blasphemous terms
September 25 (THEWILL) – Kenya has banned a documentary about a Kenyan gay man’s struggle to be accepted by his family and country, saying it is blasphemy and an affront to the constitution.
The Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) on Thursday announced it will ban the exhibition, distribution, possession or broadcast of “I Am Samuel”.
“We knew it was possible… but you hope for the best. When I made this film, I made it with the African audience in mind, ”Peter Murimi, the film’s director, told Reuters.
“We will try to appeal but I am really disappointed because I was looking forward to engaging with other Kenyans” on LGBTQ issues, he said.
Murimi’s team followed Samuel, a religious and optimistic homosexual, as he navigated his sexuality and relationships in a country where homosexuality is a crime.
“I just want my dad to understand me, as I am, to know my life,” Samuel says in the film. When his father finds out he is gay, he is disowned and fears his family has paid people to “teach him a lesson.”
At the end of the documentary, Samuel holds an engagement ceremony with his partner Alex, whom he calls the love of his life. The ceremony is intimate, inside a house, with only a few close friends present as the couple invoke God and promise to spend their lives together.
“The Council finds the documentary not only blasphemous, but also an attempt to use religion to defend same-sex marriage,” the KFCB said in a statement. It was also an affront to the constitution, which codifies marriage as heterosexual, the statement said.
The move comes three years after KFCB banned “Rafiki,” an Oscar-nominated film about two women falling in love, claiming it promotes homosexuality.
Rafiki was fictional, while “I am Samuel” is a documentary, an accolade the team had hoped would allow its release under press freedoms but have so far not done so.
Homosexuality is punishable by 14 years in prison under a colonial-era law.
“The laws criminalize a large community that is an integral part of Kenya. These laws are inhumane. They cause a lot of suffering, ”said Toni Kamau, the film’s producer.
“We are in the process of determining the next steps for Kenya, but we are still pursuing the exit for the rest of Africa.”