Kenya bans ‘Andi Mack’ over gay character, in crackdown on LGBT content

Kenyan authorities have banned the Disney Channel’s “Andi Mack” because of the program’s upcoming gay storyline, part of an ongoing crackdown in the African country on LGBT content.

The decision by the Kenya Film Classification Board underscores the challenge for creators of LGBT content on a continent where local mores – and criminal codes – don’t always align with progressive values. The board announced the ban Monday, just days after it was revealed that the show’s second season would feature a key character realizing he’s gay.

Ezekiel Mutua, CEO of the ratings board, issued a statement declaring that pay-TV and free-to-air stations were prohibited from airing content “that is likely to influence children’s perceptions negatively on the institution of family.” Citing “public complaints,” Mutua said in a Facebook post that the board “has a duty to protect children from exposure to harmful film and [broadcast] content.”

The post added: “Gay Content Will Not Air in Kenya…PERIOD!”

Stars of Disney Channel's 'Andi Mack'
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Stars of Disney Channel's 'Andi Mack'
yeah... they're alright i guess❤️ #understatementoftheyear
An enormous thank you to everyone who watched our premiere last night. I couldn’t be more proud of Andi Mack. It supports and celebrates everything I believe in so strongly. My heart leaps from my chest every time I see that incredibly portrayed scene between Josh and Sofia, and frankly any time I see any cuts of the episodes. I believe in the world we live in. I believe that we can all stand together. Hand in hand. I believe that the love in the world can beat the hate. And that the beautiful melody of kindness and support can drown out the unwelcome detestation. The fact that our show could add, in any way, to that energy. That invincible force pulling us all together. I could not ask for anything more. #yourenodifferent ❤️❤️❤️💫
This is for all of the women and girls in the world. For all of them who have to work twice as hard to gain half the respect of any guy. Who get treated differently because of being a girl. We are strong. We are brave. Stand tall. We are just as good. Just as worth it. As any man. We are all equal. End of story. Sorry boys:) #internationalwomensday #WEAREGIRLS
cheers to the laughing that turned into crying with the friends that turned into family:) 💭💫
the andi mack premiere has begun!!! please tune in. love you all:) ❤️
Amber. There is not enough time in the world to say how incredible you are. You have the purest soul, and a heart of gold. You have touched and changed so many peoples' lives, including mine. I remember the first time I walked into your office. I was beyond nervous. As soon as I walked in and saw you, all of my fears disappeared due to your warm, inviting disposition and contagious smile. No matter how many countless times I came in to audition, you never, ever gave up on me. What is happening to you is completely unfair and makes my heart ache. But, you are the bravest person I know. You have done it once, and you will do it again. Your strong will and selflessness inspires me. Sending endless love and support your way. Just know, although my physical being remains in Utah, I stand by you in spirit.❤️
another amazing day on set:) a huge thank you to @psc.originals for these awesome shoes! you are so talented!!
had an amazing time at radio disney today! thanks for having me!! what a surreal experience❤️ @radiodisney
10.27.17 #seasontwo
thanks for being my best friend always and forever💙🌼

Following the remarks, South African entertainment company MultiChoice issued a statement saying that the series “is not scheduled to air on any of the Disney channels on DStv or GOtv,” the company’s satellite and DTT platforms. It was not clear whether the decision was made in response to the film board’s ruling or if it had been made before that in light of MultiChoice’s previous run-ins with Kenyan censors.

MultiChoice could not be reached for further comment.

The decision marks the latest episode in the ongoing drama over LGBT content in Kenya, where the film classification board earlier this year pressured MultiChoice to pull seven cartoons from the airwaves, because of what Mutua described as “retrogressive and bizarre messages intended to promote the [LGBT] agenda.” MultiChoice responded by saying it “takes pride in ensuring that we comply with the law in all jurisdictions” and assuring that “all third-party suppliers are adequately briefed on country-specific regulatory requirements and provisions.” Homosexuality is a criminal offense in Kenya.

Since channel distributors typically have one broadcast feed for the entire continent, rulings such as the Kenyan film board’s have wide-ranging repercussions. The seven cartoons, including Nickelodeon’s “Loud House,” “The Legend of Korra,” and “Hey Arnold,” pulled from broadcast in Kenya wound up being removed from networks across Africa.

Similar controversies erupted in 2015, when TLC’s “I Am Jazz,” a docudrama about a transgender teen, was yanked by DStv across the continent, and last year when the second season of “I Am Cait” was pulled from the E! Entertainment channel.

The groundbreaking storyline on “Andi Mack” marks a first for Disney, which last week outlined how the new second season would feature 13-year-old Cyrus Goodman (Joshua Rush) embarking on a journey of self-discovery, including about his sexuality.

“’Andi Mack’ is a story about ‘tweens’ figuring out who they are,” the company said in a statement. “[Series creator] Terri Minsky, the cast and everyone involved in the show takes great care in ensuring that it’s appropriate for all audiences and sends a powerful message about inclusion and respect for humanity.”

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