ANC Deputy President Jacob Zuma has unreservedly apologised for the homophobic comments which he made last weekend.
The apology came in the form of a statement in which he said that, “Our lesbian and gay compatriots are protected by the Constitution and I respect their rights, in my capacity as an individual citizen and as a member and one of the leaders of the ANC.
“I also respect, acknowledge and applaud the sterling contribution of many gay and lesbian compatriots in the struggle that brought about our freedom, and the role they continue to play in the building of a successful non-racial, non-discriminatory South Africa.
“I apologise unreservedly for the pain and anger that my remarks may have caused,” he concluded.
The controversial Jacob Zuma is widely seen as a popular presidential candidate, despite a number of court cases and allegations ranging from rape to fraud, although he has not been found guilty of either.
Zuma made the comments at a Heritage Day event in KwaZulu-Natal on Sunday. He was quoted as saying that, “Same-sex marriage is a disgrace to the nation and to God…”, adding that, “When I was growing up, unqingili [homosexuals] could not stand in front of me”. Zuma said that he was speaking in his personal capacity on the matter and “as a man”.
The statements were met with outrage and condemned by human rights and LGBT groups.