end of rafiki; high court declines to lift ban on kenyan controversial lesbian film

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by Beatrice Ambasa April 21, 2021

A section of Kenyans have expressed their disappointment after the High court dismissed a petition seeking to lift a ban imposed on the popular Kenyan controversial lesbian film Rafiki.

The fresh petition to have the ban lifted in Kenya was filed by Michael Kioko, who argued that KFCB violated freedom of expression when it banned the film's distribution.

Mombasa High Court Judge Eric Ogola stated that "The petitioner is therefore seeking to declare unconstitutional what has been declared constitutional by a court of competent jurisdiction. I accept the submissions by the respondents that the petition herein is res judicata, with the consequence that it is struck out.

The film was banned by the Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) in April 2018 because it promotes homosexuality, which is illegal in Kenya.

Rafiki, a film that talks about a love story of two teenage girls who develop a romantic relationship, which their families and community oppose, has officially come to an abrupt end following the ruling.

In April 2020, the High Court in Nairobi upheld the decision by KFCB to ban Rafiki film.

 In his judgement, Justice JA Makau ruled that the ban did not violate artistic freedom of expression but instead protected society from moral decay.

Commenting on the new ruling, KFCB Boss Ezekiel Mutua said;

"While creatives are free to stretch the bounds of the freedom to reflect the changing landscape, their productions must adhere to the law. Any production that undermines the constitution, the law and societal norms or national security will be restricted".