George Gachara, the Kenyan producer arrested for making a film about the country’s LGBT community, will no longer be prosecuted.
Gachara executive produced the anthology Stories of Our Lives, which tells five dramatised true stories revolving around LGBT people’s experiences in Kenya.
Directed by artist and filmmaker Jim Chuchu, it’s received international acclaim and won the Teddy Special Jury Award at the Berlin Film Festival.
The cast and crew initially chose to remain anonymous out of fear of being targeted for making the film. They only revealed their identities at its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September last year.
A month later, Stories of Our Lives was banned by the Kenyan Film Classification Board for “obscenity, explicit scenes of sexual activities and [for promoting] homosexuality, which is contrary to [Kenya’s] national norms and values.”
On the 15th of October, the Kenyan police, accompanied by representatives from the Department of Film Services and officials from the Ministry of Sports, Culture and Arts, arrested Gachara. He was accused of shooting the film without a licence. He was later released on bail but faced up to five years in prison if convicted.
The NEST Collective, the group behind the film, has now announced that the case against Gachara has been formally dropped by the state.
It noted, however, that “this does NOT alter the restriction on the exhibition, sale and distribution of Stories of Our Lives in Kenya.” The film nevertheless continues to screen at various festivals worldwide.
Under Kenya’s penal code, same-sex consensual sex among adults is punishable with between five to 14 years imprisonment.
In January, Kenya’s Attorney-General, Githu Muigai, told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva that his government is not enforcing its gay sex ban. Last month, however, two men were arrested on charges of having gay sex and were forced to undergo humiliating medical exams.