Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe wants Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams to explain the church’s views on homosexuality.

The African leader’s spokesman said yesterday that Mr Mugabe wants to know why homosexuality is being “prescribed” to Zimbabweans.

The archbishop is in Zimbabwe for a visit and has requested to meet Mr Mugabe today.

According AFP, Mr Mugabe’s spokesman told the state-run Sunday Mail: “Fundamentally, he would want to know why the church of the British state, the Anglican Church, has remained so loudly silent while the people of Zimbabwe, and these people include Anglicans, are suffering from the illegal sanctions.”

The spokesman added: “The second issue that the president wants this man of God to clarify is why his Anglican Church thinks homosexuality is good for us and why it should be prescribed for us.

“He thinks the Archbishop will be polite enough to point to him that portion of the Great Book (that) sanctions homosexuality and sanctions sanctions.”

Mr Mugabe has a long history of homophobia and has called it “filth” and claimed that gay men and lesbians are “worse than pigs and dogs”.

The archbishop has strongly criticised Mr Mugabe’s regime, accusing him of being responsible for the persecution of Anglicans.

A breakaway in Zimbabwe’s church has been led by Mugabe ally Nolbert Kunonga, the excommunicated former bishop of Harare.

Mr Kunonga has been accused of beating and using tear gas on Anglican congregations.

It is illegal in Zimbabwe for two members of the same sex to hold hands, hug or kiss under laws enacted by the regime in 2006.