On the afternoon of 29th August, 2016, Ezekiel Mutua of the Kenya Film Classification Board, on social media released a statement about an alleged upcoming show. Mr Mutua alleged that the show in question, titled The Spread, would be “hosted by two lesbians.” The show would be hosted on What’s Good Networks (WGN) online broadcasting platform, which is open to persons who would like to broadcast content on a wide variety of issues.
Based on the GALCK’s own investigation, The Spread Podcast is a sex positive podcast hosted by Karen Lucaz and Nini Wacera. Although the podcast tackles a number of issues concerning sex and sexuality, none of the show’s hosts openly identify as lesbian.
The Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya strongly condemns the statement by Ezekiel Mutua against The Spread podcast as well the purported investigations against its producers. GALCK notes that the Kenya Film Classification Board does not have jurisdiction over audio broadcasts. All Kenyans have the right to freedom of expression which, under Article 33 (1) of the Constitution, includes the “freedom to seek, receive or impart information or ideas” as well as the right to “freedom of artistic creativity.” Even in the case of material that supports the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) individuals, no content restrictions on the freedom of expression exist.
Although the Constitution contemplates marriage between a man and a woman under Article 45, this provision does not in any way criminalise LGBTI persons. In addition, although various provisions in the criminal law prohibit adult, consensual, and private sexual conduct between persons of the same sex, these provisions do not criminalise homosexuality per se. Although Section 181 of the Penal Code outlaws the trafficking in obscene publications, frank and candid talk about sex and sexuality, for educational purposes, cannot be said to fall under this provision.
This is not the first time that Mr Mutua has made false and legally incorrect statements on issues related to the free expression of support for LGBTI rights in the country. GALCK notes that false and negative statements against the LGBTI community made by politicians and senior government officials fuel violence and discrimination against members of this community.
As a public servant, Mr Mutua is obliged to perform his duties in a manner that is consistent with the purposes and objects of the constitution while demonstrating respect for all people. To this end, the Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya calls on the Kenya Film Classification Board to cease forthwith with its purported investigation on the hosts of The Spread podcast and for Mr Mutua personally to stop his witch-hunt against the free expression of ideas and thinking that he does not agree with.