South African Gay TV Star Cancels Trip To Zimbabwe After Churches Complain

A South African celebrity Somizi Mhlongo has canceled an appearance in Zimbabwe after a Christian group tried to prevent him from entering the country because he is gay.

Somizi Mhlongo, a South African TV host who is openly gay, is best known for serving as a judge on the country's version of American Idol.

The Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe wrote to the government, expressing its opposition to Somizi Mhlongo's visit and its members' feelings of "violation" as a result of it.

On Thursday, November 4, the actor and media personality was set to attend the reopening of a Harare restaurant.
However, he later declined an invitation to perform in Namibia.

In a video posted to Instagram on Thursday, the 48-year-old appeared to be in good spirits, with the caption "Bye bye ZA (Zimbabwe) Hello NA (Namibia)."

Mr Mhlongo, who is best known as a judge on South Africa's version of American Idol, said he would not "stop speaking on behalf of the voiceless" despite the cancellation of his visit.

"If you don't want me to be me, authentically me, keep it, keep your space, keep your country," he said in the six-minute video.

"Zimbabwe does not tolerate homosexuality," the Apostolic Council, a coalition of more than 600 Christian groups, wrote in a letter to President Mnangagwa.

"We would have caused a lot of spiritual disturbance, and we would have openly accepted homosexuality in Zimbabwe, affecting our children," the group said.

'Our gender identities are not recognized in Africa.'

The council also claimed that allowing Mr Mhlongo to visit could hurt the ruling Zanu-PF party's chances in the upcoming elections.

Mr Mhlongo's visit was also opposed by Zanu-youth PF's wing, with the party's acting deputy secretary for youth affairs urging the restaurant to reconsider its invitation.

Homosexuality is still illegal in Zimbabwe, and the country's LGBT community was frequently persecuted during former President Robert Mugabe's reign, when he said gay people were "worse than pigs and dogs."

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