South African-based satellite TV service DStv has confirmed that it will not broadcast any LGBTQ+ content in Uganda to abide by the country’s new Anti-Homosexuality Act.
The repressive law imposes numerous harsh penalties, including a 20-year prison term for individuals found guilty of “promoting” homosexuality.
Organisations or companies that are convicted of knowingly “broadcasting” any content “promoting or encouraging homosexuality” on any platform also face a fine or having their license suspended for 10 years, or cancelled entirely.
TV journalist Thinus Ferreira asked MultiChoice, which owns the DStv service, how it planned to accommodate the recently signed legislation in its programming.
The company replied: “MultiChoice takes into account all laws and regulations under which we are governed and aims to adhere to those set rules in the countries in which we operate.”
It added that, “We are a business that enriches the lives of many people through film and television in our quest to remain Africa’s best-loved storyteller.” (Clearly this doesn’t apply to the lives of LGBTQ+ people in certain regions).
MultiChoice has come under fire in the past for restricting or censoring LGBTQ-related content in countries where this is deemed illegal or banned by homophobic regulators.
In 2019, MultiChoice was ordered by the broadcast regulator in Zambia to cancel the Lusaka Hustle reality show because one of the participants was deemed to be “exhibiting gay tendencies.”
The year before, MultiChoice blocked the gay-affirming Disney series Andi Mack from its African lineup because the Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) found that it was trying to “normalise homosexuality among young people.”
MultiChoice was earlier ordered by the KFCB to block six series on the Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network channels for “promoting the deviant LGBT agenda.”
The company has also acceded to similar demands from Nigerian censors in the past, banning shows such as the two transgender reality series I Am Cait and I Am Jazz.
While MultiChoice may feel that it is obligated to comply with local laws, what is particularly irksome is that it seems to do this so willingly, failing to take a principled stand against this discriminatory censorship or even speak out against it.