Inxeba reclassification angers Right2Know

Johannesburg – The Right2Know Campaign on Friday described the Film and Publication Board's (FPB) decision to reclassify the film Inxeba as homophobic censorship.

The organisation in a statement said: "The FPB appeal board recently reclassified award-winning film Inxeba to X18 with the classifiable elements of sex, language, nudity, violence and prejudice. The X18 classification is one categorisation away from a total ban under FPB classification schedule."

The FPB's Appeal Tribunal overturned the classification of the film on Wednesday, according to News24 sister website Channel24.

It reported that the X18 classification is typically reserved for adult films of an explicit sexual nature.

The producers have also expressed their disappointment with the decision.

Various organisations have expressed outrage over Inxeba, which is centred on Xhosa initiation.

"While we respect the freedom of expression of those who feel misrepresented or disagree with this film, we don't believe that this should lead to the censorship of a narrative, which gives expression to same-sex attraction between men, and the confrontation this creates with traditional notions of masculinity and culture." 

Right2Know explained that the reclassification of the film meant that it could only be screened in "designated adult premises".

"We view this as censorship; censorship that silences the voice of the LGBTIQ community, and violates the constitutional right to freedom of expression. As the FPB has yet to publish reasons for this decision, R2K sees it as a dangerous and gross overreach of the FPB's authority."

Controversial partnership

FPB spokesperson Manala Botolo would not be drawn on commenting on the matter.

Right2Know said in 2015, when the FPB's online regulations were released, the organisation spoke out about the threats to a free and democratic internet. 

In 2016, Right2Know raised concerns with the FPB's partnership agreement with the notoriously homophobic Kenyan censorship board, submitting a Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) request for the agreement. 

Mamba Online, a gay news and lifestyle website, reported that the Kenyan censorship board had a history of banning or attempting to ban LGBTIQ-themed material, including films and music videos.

The Right2Know's PAIA request was rejected and that raised questions about the FPB's commitment to transparency and accountability in its decision-making.

"The reclassification of Inxeba by the appeals board flies in the face of the spirit of the freedom of expression in a democratic state, which includes freedom to receive or impart information or ideas, especially for those ideas or expression which we differ with," said the organisation.

"We demand that the FPB scrap this outrageous, homophobic and patri

archal decision, and allow creative expression to flourish and be seen in its many forms."

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