Bishops in Kenya Applaud Film Regulatory Body for Banning Gay-themed Movie

Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) CEO Ezekiel Mutua addressing a press conference on February 21 on the ban of Hindi film Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan .
Credit: KFCB

The decision to ban a gay-themed movie undertaken by the Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) has received support from Catholic Bishops in the East African nation.

The ban concerns the movie titled "Shubh Mangal Zyada Saavdhan (SMZS)," which translates to “Extra Careful of Marriage.” Released initially in Indonesia February 13, it is an Indian comedy drama film about a romantic affair between two men and delivers, albeit with some dose of laughter, homosexuality message.

“We (Bishops) applaud the Board for keeping vigilance against foreign funded and introduced ideologies that attempt to sneak in and corrupt the minds of our young people using films and videos,” the Chairman, Commission for Social Communication of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB), Bishop Joseph Obanyi told ACI Africa in an interview on Friday, February 21.

The Local Ordinary of Kenya’s Kakamega Diocese added, “Reading through the press statement by the (Kenya) Film Classification Board, I agree totally with the restrictions put against the homosexually connotated film. The Catholic Church abhors and condemns homosexuality under any disguise.”

On February 21, KFCB issued a press statement banning the movie presented for examination by Crimson Multimedia Limited “for its misleading and deliberate attempt to normalize and legalize same-sex marriages, against Article 45 of the Kenyan constitution which defines marriage as a union between two persons of the opposite sex thus outlawing homosexuality.” 

“Worse is that the film further attempts to introduce children to homosexuality by depicting the adaptation of children's singing-games into gay-themed songs in a bid to indoctrinate young impressionable minds towards the vice. This is unacceptable,” KFCB explained in the February 21 statement signed by its CEO, Dr. Ezekiel Mutua.

The Board termed the movie “an affront to the Kenyan Constitution, laws and culture as well as our society's firm belief in the sacrosanct institution of the family.”

Besides contravening the country’s laws and constitution, which recognize the family as “the basic unit of society... derived from a union between two people of the opposite gender,” Kenya’s film regulatory body also noted that the movie contradicts Section 165 of the Penal Code in the Christian-majority country. Homosexuality is outlawed in the code.

“Such content, therefore, cannot be exhibited, distributed or broadcasted or held in possession in the Kenyan territory,” KFCB stated and added in reference to a venue in Kenya’s capital, “The proposed premiere of the film scheduled for 21st February 2020 at IMAX is therefore hereby outlawed.”

In the statement, the Board cautioned that “any attempt to distribute, broadcast, exhibit or possess such restricted material will be met with the full force of the law.”

“Any distributor or exhibitor licensed by the Board will have their licences revoked if found in breach,” KFCB warned.

“Thumbs up Mutua! You did the right thing,” the Vice chairman of the Catholic Justice and Peace Commission (CJPC) of KCCB, Archbishop Martin Kivuva told ACI Africa Saturday, February 22 on the sidelines of the launch of 2020 Lenten Campaign and the Bishops’ Pastoral Letter.

In the considered opinion of KCCB Chairman, Archbishop Philip Anyolo, the move by KFCB is laudable since “homosexuality is nowhere in the direction of human creation” but “a deviation from really what humanity is.”

“The purpose of man and woman He (God) created is not there in homosexuality,” the Archbishop of Kisumu told ACI Africa February 22 and added, “It (homosexuality) is just a distortion of human life and the more it’s blocked the better.”

Last August, KFCB banned the playing of two Tanzanian songs with explicit adult lyrics outside of children-restricted areas, a move that Church leaders in Kenya lauded as a good step in safeguarding children.  

ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.

Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa
[email protected]