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Karua’s take on lesbian film ‘Rafiki’ after online premiere

Narc-Kenya party leader Martha Karua has issued her verdict on the controversial and proscribed Kenyan lesbian-themed romance film Rafiki.

Karua, a lawyer, said she watched the film after US-based Kenyan scholar Professor Makau Mutua shared a link of the movie on Twitter last week.

Karua lauded the banned film describing it as well produced and acted and wondered was it was banned in the country.

“Thanks for sharing, Prof. Enjoyed watching this well-acted production by Wanuri. Our double standards on what is appropriate/acceptable for viewing is our undoing,” she said.

The film was banned by Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) CEO Ezekiel Mutua in 2018 over claims of promoting homosexuality, which is illegal in Kenya.

But a Twitter user disagreed with her: “On this, Mama, let’s just agree to disagree. Let male human beings remain male as female ones also remain female. Some behaviors have been assigned the males; others the females. Let it remain so.”

But in a rejoinder, Karua said “The movie does not ask you to behave in any particular way just like when you watch the violent movies on our screens daily there is no requirement that you become a batterer or murderer.”

Last week, high court’s Justice J.A. Makau upheld the movie ban, saying it did not violate artistic freedom of expression and that it was meant to protect the society from moral decay.

Justice Makau noted that the petitioners failed to prove how the ban violated their right of expression.

“The jurisdiction of the court was prematurely invoked. Freedom of Expression is not absolute, but subject to limitations under article 24,” the judge ruled.

While delivering his ruling the judge said, “The Kenya Film and Stage Play Act – Cap 222 and the KFCB Classification Guidelines 2012 are constitutional and do not offend Article 24. The discretion of the Kenya Film Classification Board to restrict Rafiki is constitutional. Petition dismissed in its entirety with costs.”

The film Rafiki (which translates to friend in Swahili) was banned by KFCB in April 2018 on grounds that it promoted homosexuality in a country where gay sex is a criminal offence.

In banning the film KFCB relied on the Films and Stage Plays Act (Cap 222), legislation passed in 1962 by the colonial government.

Rafiki has screened at more than 150 film festivals worldwide and has won more than 20 awards, including six audience choice awards.