Some Nickelodeon kid cartoons have been banned in Kenya for “glorifying homosexuality”

Not suitable for our children.
Not suitable for our children.
Image: Reuters/Mario Anzuoni
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Kenya’s film and classification board (KFCB) has called for the suspension of several US-produced children’s programs running on channels provided by TV company MultiChoice. The board said the cartoons featured “disturbing content glorifying homosexual behavior” which was not suitable for children.

The animation programs are The Loud House, The Legend of Korra, and Hey Arnold, which run on the Nickelodeon channel, and Clarence, Steven Universe, and Adventure Time which air on Cartoon Network. In Kenya, the shows are watched through the pay-tv DStv and GOtv services, both owned by MultiChoice, a unit of Naspers, the South African media giant. Last year, Multichoice was forced to pull trans gender star Caitlyn Jenner’s reality show from its local E! channel in Nigeria, and also dropped I am Jazz, the story of a transgender child scheduled to show on The Learning Channel.

Many of the Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network children shows have featured queer charactersgay parents, and addressed issues related to being in the closet.

The Loud House’s gay dads episode has also face push back from conservative Christian groups at home in the United States.

The KFCB board said it asked Multichoice to discontinue the broadcasting, distribution or exhibition of these programs because they were inconsistent with age suitability ratings for films, and contradicted Kenyan laws regarding the institution of a family.

“Adults can choose to become homosexuals and exercise their rights on sexual orientation and relationships, but not so with children,” Ezekiel Mutua, the chief executive officer of the regulator, said in a statement.

It’s wasn’t immediately clear if the supposedly offending Nickelodeon episodes ever aired in Kenya. Viacom Africa, which licenses the Nickelodeon shows said last July it would not be airing such shows in South Africa and the rest of sub Saharan Africa.

Mutua said that his institution received complaints about the shows over the last couple of weeks, and investigations showed that the concerns were legitimate. Most parents, he added, may have not been aware that the programs featured “retrogressive and bizarre messages” intended to promote a gay agenda in the country.

As the head of the government agency that regulates all visual content in Kenya, this is not the first time Mutua has called for the banning of gay-themed shows and films. Mutua has in the past asked YouTube to take down a Kenyan music video celebrating gay love; banned the movie Stories of Our Lives which dramatizes true stories of gay Kenyans, and prohibited a podcast hosted by a singer and actor duo after labeling it a lesbian show.

Mutua is a controversial figure in Kenya, with some calling him the country’s censor-in-chief. In late April, he said he will introduce a bill in parliament that prohibits the use of fake names on social media. In 2016, the board forced Coca-Cola to remove a kissing scene from a TV ad because it violated “family values,” and also banned musicians from using obscene stage names. When Netflix came into Kenya last year, the regulator said that it posed a threat to the country’s “moral values and national security.”

Both GOtv and DStv Kenya have for now confirmed that Nickelodeon will not be airing episodes of The Loud House featuring gay elements on its channels in sub-Saharan Africa.