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Kenya has lifted its ban on Rafiki, a lesbian love story

Giving the film a shot at the Oscars

Rafiki, director and author Wanuri Kahiu’s film depicting a romance between the daughters of two rival Kenyan politicians, was banned in its home country when it premiered at Cannes earlier this year. Now, though, an appeal to the Kenyan court has seen the ban lifted, allowing the film a chance to enter the running in the Best Foreign Language category at the Oscars.

Following Kahiu’s filing of a suit against the Kenyan film classification board president, Ezekiel Mutua, and the Kenyan attorney general Paul Kihara, judge Wilfrida Okwany ruled that Rafiki would be allowed to be screened until September 30. This means the film can fulfil the Oscars submission requirement of a seven-day run.

“I am not convinced that Kenya is such a weak society that it cannot handle a gay theme,” Okwany said. “There are Kenyans who paid the ultimate price for the freedoms we enjoy today.”

Following the ruling, the film classification board expressed their opposition, criticising its “attempt to normalize homosexuality,” and saying: “The board firmly believes that films should reflect the dominant values of the Kenyan people. Homosexuality does not qualify as such.” Nevertheless, it has agreed to comply once the ruling – which makes the film available to those over 18 – is official.