Even though South Africa is the first African country to legalise same-sex marriage with a constitution that also protects against discrimination based on sexual orientation, Kenya is still bearing the brunt of persecution and discrimination in terms of homosexuality.
This was most noticeable after Kenyan authorities banned a documentary titled “I Am Samuel”, which depicts a romantic relationship between two men living in Nairobi.
In a statement cited by AFP, the Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) described the film as “demeaning of Christianity”, adding that it’s “unacceptable and an affront to [the] culture and identity” of a Christian country which has criminalised homosexuality.
Homosexuality is still taboo across much of Africa, and anyone who is recognised as part of the LGBT community in Kenya faces persecution and discrimination. Sodomy is a felony per Section 162 of the Kenyan Penal Code, punishable by 14 years imprisonment, and any sexual practices between males are a felony under section 165 of the same statute, punishable by five years imprisonment, as NPR reports.
KFCB boss Christopher Wambua said that “the production is demeaning of Christianity as two gay men in the film purport to conduct a religious marriage invoking the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.”
“I Am Samuel” was directed by Kenyan filmmaker, Peter Murimi who told Reuters that: “We knew it was possible… but you hope for the best. When I made this film, I made it with African audiences in mind.
“We will try and appeal but I am really disappointed because I was looking forward to engaging with fellow Kenyans.”
“I Am Samuel” is the second gay-themed film to be banned in Kenya. This comes after the decision to stop cinemas from showing “Rafiki” in 2018, a lesbian love story which became the first Kenyan movie to premiere at the Cannes film festival, AFP adds. The ban on “Rafiki” was eventually overturned by a court, and the film opened to audiences in Nairobi.