NAIROBI, March 10 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Kenya's
first gay music video - swiftly banned by the country's film
board - shows a well-toned young man, naked apart from his
underpants, leaning over his tattooed male lover in bed.
Two pretty young women exchange kisses on a park bench, one
putting a ring on the other's wedding finger, as the vocalist
sings: "I can't change, even if I tried, even if I wanted to."
The song "Same Love" was originally recorded by American hip
hop duo Macklemore and Ryan Lewis during the 2012 campaign to
legalise same-sex marriage in Washington State.
A remix by Kenyan rap artist Art Attack set out to provoke
similar debate in the conservative East African nation, where
homosexual acts are punishable by up to 14 years in jail.
"We expected that this will create controversy, we expected
that a lot of people will talk about it but we didn't expect the
amount of publicity it has received," Art Attack told the
Thomson Reuters Foundation in a telephone interview.
"The erotic scenes were meant to show that these people also
fall in love."
Interest in the video has been fuelled by the Kenya Film
Classification Board's (KFCB) Feb. 23 decision to ban it and ask
Google Kenya to take it down.
"The video currently circulating on YouTube consists of
lyrics that strongly advocate for gay rights in Kenya, complete
with graphic sexual scenes between people of the same gender, as
well as depiction of nudity and pornography," the board's chief
executive, Ezekiel Mutua, told a news conference.
The video remains online and has been watched on YouTube
more than 120,000 times in three weeks.
The hashtag #KenyanGayVideo has been trending on Twitter,
some people saying homosexuals should be beaten to death while
others called for tolerance.
While the internet has raised the visibility of lesbians and
gays and made it easier for them to connect, Art Attack is one
of the first Kenyans to use it to campaign for Lesbian Gay
Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) rights.
His lyrics call for "a sex rights movement", while the video
intersperses romantic scenes with newspaper headlines such as
"Homos are filthy".
Homosexuality is taboo across Africa - only South Africa
permits gay or lesbian marriage - and the persecution of gay
people is rife, with religious leaders often inciting mob
violence against them.
Kenyan Deputy President William Ruto said in 2015 there was
"no room" for gays in Kenya.
The video also includes photos of writer Binyavanga
Wainaina, one of the few openly gay Kenyans, Ugandan lesbian
activist Kasha Nabagesera and South Africa's late bisexual
singer Brenda Fassie.
"Somebody has to stand and speak against what is going on,"
said George Barasa, a gay rights activist who features in the
An actor re-enacts Barasa's teenage suicide attempt in the
video, collapsing on the floor beside a note saying: "Wish I
wasn't born this way".
ENCOURAGE ART AS ADVOCACY
The use of art is an innovative form of advocacy that should
be encouraged, said Anthony Oluoch, executive director of Gay
"KFCB is stifling our people's creativity by refusing to let
people see films and music videos that have a message," he said.
"We are not advocating for war; we are just advocating for
love and acceptance and allowing people to live their lives."
Kenya's film board is well known for its conservatism.
It also banned the award-winning 2014 film 'Stories of Our
Lives', which dramatises the lives of gays and lesbians in
Kenya, and the erotic 2015 film 'Fifty Shades of Grey'.
The board threatened to ban the streaming service Netflix in
January, saying it threatened Kenya's moral values and national
"This was my first song advocating for LGBT but it won't be
my last," said Art Attack, who says he is straight.
(Reporting by Anthony Langat, writing by Katy Migiro, editing
by Tim Pearce. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the
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