The Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini has branded people in gay relationships ‘rotten’.
He was speaking yesterday (22 January) in the presence of South African president Jacob Zuma at Nquthu, in northern KwaZulu-Natal, during the 133rd commemoration of the Battle of Isandlwana, which the Zulu regiments won.
Zwelithini is widely reported as having said: ‘Traditionally, there were no people who engaged in same-sex relationships. There was nothing like that and if you do it, you must know that you are rotten. I don't care how you feel about it. If you do it, you must know that it is wrong and you are rotten. Same sex is not acceptable.’
President Jacob Zuma, who shared the stage with Zwelithini and has previously been criticized for making homophobic remarks, did not directly respond to the remarks.
But he did say: ‘Today, we are faced with different challenges. Challenges of reconciliation and of building a nation that does not discriminate against other people because of their colour or sexual orientation.’
Lance Weyer, Mr Gay South Africa 2011, said the king’s remarks were ‘unacceptable’.
Weyer explained: ‘He must have missed the history books where many historical experts believe that Shaka Zulu is to have encouraged intercrural intercourse among his troops to “create intimacy and loyalty".
‘What the King said is in clear conflict with our bill of rights and section nine of the constitution specifically, regardless of his interpretation of history. We have to note the devastating effect deeply rooted homophobia by leaders is having on communities. How can someone who is being paid a salary by the South African government (ie taxpayers) have such a blatantly unconstitutional view?
‘Violent homophobia is real, and as much as I respect your right to practice and live your Zulu culture, I think it’s about time that we started being as passionate about the dignity and wellbeing of all our citizens.’