The Zulu royal household claims King Goodwill Zwelithini's branding of gay people as 'rotten' is down to 'reckless translation'.
The monarch was slammed after making the comments on Sunday (22 January) during the 133rd commemoration of the Battle of Isandlwana.
However, the royal household has accused South Africa's Times newspaper, which originally ran the offensive quote, of poor translation.
'At no stage did His Majesty condemn gay relations or same relations,' spokesman Prince Mbonisi Zulu told the Sapa news agency.
The South African Rights Commission is writing to the king, expressing its concerns, and has asked for transcripts of the speech.
Commission spokesman Vincent Moaga said: 'If it is indeed correct that… the Zulu king made the utterances as reported, they constitute hate speech, are dehumanizing and also a violation of the constitutional right of LGBT people to equality and freedom.'
South African law forbids discrimination on the grounds of sexuality.