While the question of what exactly the Zulu king said about gays in a speech on Sunday remains, the Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa said the gay rights group who demanded an apology showed the king disrespect.
The royal family has dismissed allegations that the king said gay relationships were “rotten” as a mistranslation by South Africa’s Times newspaper.
While the South African Human Rights Commission then said it would investigate King Goodwill Zwelithini, the Premier of KwaZulu-Natal, the province which is home to the Zulu nation, backed the royal family’s version of events.
Now, Contralesa, the Congress of Traditional Leaders of South Africa, says the gays who asked for the king to apologise were only seeking fame.
In a statement appearing to refer to the Gay & Lesbian Network in Pietermaritzburg, they say: “We condemn the gays and lesbian group [for questioning] His Majesty iMbube to apologise to them.
“This shows how disrespectful they are and worse to the point of that they would approach the king on twisted facts. They are just seeking fame out [of] our king.”
Contralesa is made up of traditional African leaders including chiefs and headmen and does not have any official political affiliations.
According to the nation’s Times newspaper, the king told a crowd: “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.”
The royal family suggested it may have been a “reckless” translation and said they felt “shock and dismay” at the newspaper’s report of the speech.
The speech came at a memorial for the 1879 Battle of Isandlwana, during which the Zulu army defeated the British.
Zweli Mkhize, the Premier of KwaZulu-Natal, reportedly played a DVD of the speech to the provincial legislature, saying it contains no slurs against gays in the original language.