A music video featuring a lesbian couple in bed together may be nothing unusual in some countries. However, place a music video featuring same-sex couples in Kenya, and trouble will likely brew.

 

A couple of days ago, a remix inspired by Macklemore’s “Same Love” was banned by the Kenya Film and Classification Board (KFCB) on moral grounds. The board also tweeted that the producers of the music video did not have a filming license. Not content with just that, the KFCB has also apparently urged citizens to refrain from viewing and sharing the video.

 

 

Music is a powerful tool; musicians all over the world have, and continue to, use their influence to send important messages. Music videos in particular have been used to raise the visibility of LGBT people globally for decades. For example, the Iranian icon Googoosh sang about lesbian love in Farsi with the song “Behesht” (“Paradise”), despite unkind attitudes towards homosexuality in Iran. The music video for “Behesht” also showed a lesbian couple dealing with harassment and prejudice. Another will be Taiwanese pop star Jolin Tsai whose music video for “We’re All Different, Yet the Same” featured a kiss with the singer and a well-known actress. Interestingly, that music video was banned not in Tsai’s home country but in Singapore.

 

Art Attack’s “Same Love” is a recent addition to the list of music videos for LGBT rights and is the first from Kenya. Apparently inspired by the lives of out personalities Joji Baro and Binyavanga Wainaina, the “Same Love (Remix)” video was created to show others the reality faced by queer people in Kenya. It also features celebrities from Kenya and neighbouring Tanzania who are rumored to be in same-sex relationships. Despite attempts to silent the video, it has gained over 100,000 views on YouTube; presumably, some of these views are from Kenya and other African countries.

 

One thing that is admirable about initiatives such as that from Art Attack is the sheer resilience shown by Kenyan activists towards denouncing homophobia in their country and calling for equal rights of LGBT people. This is not the first time the KFCB has made a similar move (the board banned a 2014 documentary that explores the life of Kenya’s LGBT community) and it may not be its last.

 

Some say that homosexuality is taboo in Kenya, will music videos and films change this perception? Leave a comment below or let me know on Twitter @rafeeeeta