Kenya temporarily lifts ban on Rafiki so the film can compete at the Oscars


The film was banned in the country for its homosexual content.

A Kenyan judge has lifted the ban on lesbian film Rafiki, allowing the film to compete for Best Foreign Language Film at this year’s Academy Awards.

The ban was lifted after the director of the film, Wanuri Kahiu sued the country for banning the film. Kahiu believed that the film was banned after the characters didn’t show “remorse” at the end.

As the ban was lifted, the film can now compete at this year’s Academy Awards. The rules for the Academy Awards say that any film wishing to enter the Best Foreign Language Film category “must be first released in the country submitting it… and be first publicly exhibited for at least seven consecutive days in a commercial motion picture theater.”

However, Judge Wilfrida Okwanny ruled that the film will only be allowed to be screened for those seven consecutive days, starting today.

Related: Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta says that LGBTQ rights aren’t of “major importance” to Kenya

In her ruling, Judge Okwanny said: “I am not convinced that Kenya is such a weak society that its moral foundation will be shaken by seeing such a film.”

She added: “Gay themes or the practice of homosexuality did not begin with Rafiki.”

Speaking to Buzzfeed News, Dudley Ochiel, the lead attorney on the case said that the ruling was “a win for the freedom of expression and artistic creativity in Kenya.”

He added that Judge Okwanny “understood the issues and also questioned the justification for a total ban, including for Kenyan audiences.”

Meanwhile, the High Court of Kenya is debating laws surrounding “unnatural sex”. A case was brought against the criminalisation of homosexuality using the current law, as it was described as “too vague”.

The landmark ruling, which was expected to come in on April 26, could either decriminalise homosexuality in Kenya, or makes the current laws much worse for the LGBTQ community.



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