September 25 (THEWILL) – Kenya has banned a documentary film about a gay Kenyan’s struggle to be accepted by his family and his country.
The Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) announced on Thursday a ban on the exhibition, distribution, possession or broadcast of “I am Samuel”.
âWe knew it was possible … but you hope for the best. When I made this film, I had the African audience in mind, âPeter Murimi, the film’s director, told Reuters.
“We will try to appeal, but I am really disappointed because I was looking forward to meeting other Kenyans” on LGBTQ issues, he said.
Murimi’s team followed Samuel, a religious, optimistic gay man, in his sexuality and relationships in a country where homosexuality is a crime.
“I just want my father to understand me for who I am, for him to know my life,” says Samuel in the film. When his father discovers he is gay, he is denied and feared that his family may have paid people to “teach him a lesson”.
At the end of the documentary, Samuel holds an engagement ceremony with his partner Alex, whom he calls the love of his life. The ceremony is intimate, in a house with just a few close friends, while the couple calls on God and promises to spend their lives together.
“The board considers the documentary not only blasphemous, but also an attempt to use religion to advocate same-sex marriage,” said a statement by the KFCB. It is also an affront to the constitution, which codifies marriage as heterosexual, the statement said.
The decision comes three years after the KFCB banned Rafiki, an Oscar-nominated film about two women who fall in love, and says it promotes homosexuality.
Rafiki was fiction, while I am Samuel is a documentary, an award the team had hoped would allow it to be released under the freedom of the press, but not yet.
Homosexialism is punished by 14 years imprisonment under colonial law.
âThe laws criminalize a significant community that is an integral part of Kenya. These laws are inhuman. They cause a lot of suffering, âsaid Toni Kamau, the film’s producer.
“We are considering the next steps for Kenya, but we are still proceeding with the release for the rest of Africa.”