Rafiki (Swahili for Friend) by Kenyan filmmaker Wanuri Kahiu had been invited to premiere at Cannes in May.
In a statement, the Kenya Film Classification board says the film’s “homosexual theme and clear intent to promote lesbianism in Kenya are contrary to the law.”
Same sex marriages are illegal in Kenya.
Rafiki is based on “Jambula tree” a short story by Uganda author Minca Arac de Nyeko. It is about two female best friends who fall in love – a taboo topic of sorts in a country that does not allow same sex relations.
The excitement of having the film premiere at the Cannes Film festival in May has been clear on social media since the announcement was made last week.
On Friday however, the Kenya Film Classification board banned the distribution, exhibition or broadcast of the film within Kenya saying that it has homosexual scenes “counter to the law, culture and the moral values of the Kenyan people.”
Film maker Wanuri Kahiu in a tweet expressed her dismay at the ban, saying she was sorry that the film had been banned.
She further stated that she believes that Kenyans are mature to watch local content but their right has been denied. Jambula tree won the 2017 Caine Prize for Africa writing.