In a question of freedom, justice and equality, the Zimbabwean LGBTIQ+ sector has castigated a move by the Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe (ACCZ) to request for the cancellation of a planned business visit by popular South African gay celebrity, Somizi Mhlongo.
The incident sparked a divisive conversation on social media, with some bringing up Mhlongo’s previous allegations as an addition to his gay preferences, which they said are a threat to Zimbabwe’s culture, morality and the constitution.
In a joint statement, the sector said despite his personal affairs, some organisations were incorrectly representing the opinions of all Zimbabweans in a universal manner.
“While we do not condone allegations against him in his personal affairs, we acknowledge that Somizi Mhlongo lives an authentic life openly as a gay man, and public figure, who enjoys a following across Africa and even, in Zimbabwe.
The major issue noted is the act by specific organisations to erroneously represent the views of all Zimbabweans, a country that has a sizeable LGBTIQ+ population,” said the organisation.
The sector reprimanded organisations and political parties from pushing an agenda that defies healthy public debates, and deter some groups from benefitting from the Development agenda of Zimbabwe.
“Some political parties and religious groups also seem to forget that other evils such as xenophobia subsequently become justifiable to some when stigma and discrimination are allowed to thrive.”
We encourage all Zimbabweans to assess situations critically separate from the bounds of supposed homogenous ‘morality’ culture and check the quality of news content they consume,” further highlighted the organisations.
The LGBTIQ+ organisations that came together include the Gays and Lesbians Association of Zimbabwe, the Trans Research Education Advocacy and Training, the Hands of Hope, the Voices of the Voiceless, the Rise Above Women’s Organisation , Pakasipiti, TransSmart Trust, Purple Hand Africa, Sexual Rights Centre, Trans and Intersex Rising Zimbabwe and the Key Population Coalition of Zimbabwe.
In a damning letter to the ruling party, ZANU PF, the ACCZ group expressed ingratitude, vulnerability and the feeling of being violated with the visit.
“Somizi is a homosexual, hence according to our people’s driven constitution, Zimbabwe doesn’t tolerate homosexuality,” said the association which also highlighted a ‘political threat’ to ZANU PF if Somizi was to be allowed into the country.
“This move will also affect our revolutionary party ZANU PF by disturbing the 5 million votes win needed in the next 2023 harmonized elections for it is publicly known that our party strongly stands against homosexuality,” further stated the church group.
Somizi had initially been contracted to do an exhibition cooking at the official re-launch of Garwe Restaurant in Harare, Zimbabwe.
Mhlongo said it is very sad that homosexuals are being oppressed and homophobia is no different from xenophobia, racism and any other form of phobia.
“Them telling me not to come to their country because I am gay won’t change anything with regards to people being gay or homosexual. I am not the reason why people are homosexual.”
“If it means you not wanting me for being me, authentically being me, keep it, keep your space, keep your country, I don’t want to be there,” said Somizi
After all the tragedy, the event organizers were forced to drop their invitation to Somizi who was replaced by another South African celebrity and singer Kelly Khumalo who, however, also did not show up