The Kenyan high court has temporarily lifted a ban on lesbian film, Rafiki in time for an Oscar run. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the ruling allows the film to be screened until September 30 with an over-18 rating, making it eligible for the best foreign-language category. This gives it the required seven-day run for eligibility.
"I am not convinced that Kenya is such a weak society that it cannot handle a gay theme. There are Kenyans who paid the ultimate price for the freedoms we enjoy today," said Judge Wilfrida Okwany, who handed down the ruling on Friday.
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The film had been banned in Kenya for promoting homosexuality, which is illegal in the country. Co-writer/director Wanuri Kahiu filed a lawsuit against film board president Ezekiel Mutaua and Kenyan attorney general Paul Kihara, in order to give the movie a chance at Oscar eligibility. The country's film classification board stood against the ruling, but said they will comply once it is official.
"It is a sad moment and a great insult, not only to the film industry, but to all Kenyans who stand for morality, that a film that glories homosexuality is allowed to be the country's branding tool abroad," it said. "The board firmly believes that films should reflect the dominant values of the Kenyan people. Homosexuality does not qualify as such."
Having premiered at Cannes, Rafiki follows two girls who fall in love. They subsequently face discrimination and physical violence from their community. The film's title means "friend" in Swahili.
Watch the trailer below: