In a scenario reminiscent of a 2009 Miss USA incident, a Miss Botswana finalist, Sharon Seno, has said that homosexuality is an illness that can be cured.
Seno, who made it into the pageant’s top five, was asked by the judges during Saturday’s event to name the biggest challenges facing young people in the country.
She caused a stir by replying: “Homosexuality. It is an illness that can be cured. Our government wants us to increase our population, but we cannot do that through homosexuality.”
Seno failed to take the Miss Botswana crown, which went instead to Rosemary Keofitlhetse, a 20-year-old agriculture student.
Writing on her Facebook page following the controversy over her remarks, Seno wrote: “Opinions are just opinion we all learn to accept them.”
Fashion designer Aobakwe Molosiwa told the Botswana Daily News: “On an international platform, she would have got herself and the country into a controversial position. In this day and age, girls should know not to express such opinions on a public platform, no matter their personal views.”
It’s not the first time that the Miss Botswana pageant has been used as an anti-gay platform.
In 2009, contestant Sumaiyah Marope was asked by celebrity judge DJ Fresh what she thought of gay marriage.
She replied: “It is an unnatural act. God made us men and women… It is only proper for men to have relationships with women as God created us.”
The crowd erupted in cheers of approval, and Marope went on to win the contest.
The latest incident was also similar to one in which 2009 Miss USA contestant, Miss California Carrie Prejean, was asked by judge Perez Hilton her opinion on same-sex marriage.
Prejean’s response that “a marriage should be between a man and a woman” is thought to have led to her not winning the Miss USA title and instead being chosen as the runner up.
She was ultimately fired as Miss California for “contract violations,” including missing scheduled pageant events.