A Kenyan court has upheld the ban on an award-winning film about a lesbian love story.

Rafiki, meaning “friend” in Swahili, was banned by the Kenya Film and Classification Board (KFCB) in 2018 for “promoting lesbianism”.

It traces a coming-of-age love story between two young women who meet and fall in love against a background of homophobia.

Gay sex is punishable in Kenya by up to 14 years in prison. The law is specific to men but activists say that lesbian, bi, trans and non-binary people are also affected, effectively outlawing homosexuality.

The film’s director Wanuri Kahiu had been challenging the ban, arguing that Kenyans had a right to freedom of expression under the constitution.

The head of the KFCB Ezekiel Mutua welcomed the outcome, saying it was a landmark ruling in favour of family values.

“We went against popular opinion and said no to homosexual content. We were labelled as homophobic and ostracised locally and internationally,” he tweeted.

“But we stood for family values and what we believe to be in the best interest of Kenya. Family is the basic unit of society.”

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