Prophet Emmanuel Makandiwa

A popular Zimbabwean religious leader has told his followers that gay people are mentally ill “rejects” who are backed by the devil.

“Men trying to be women, women trying to be men, trying to run away from the natural way of things, that’s a result of a reprobate mind,” United Family International Church (UFIC) leader Prophet Emmanuel Makandiwa was quoted as saying in last weekend’s Sunday Mail.

“What amazes me is that some of these people are billionaires. Some of these people with reprobate minds are in political positions. Now they are passing laws to support homosexuality, defending their reprobate minds,” he ranted.

“How can someone get lots of money and yet he has a reprobate mind? …Most people don’t believe such homosexuals are out of their minds because they have more money than you. Money is there to make them appear like they are normal, they are not normal,” Makandiwa told his cheering congregation.

He explained that this was a strategy by the devil to make it difficult for the public to realise that gay people are actually sick.

“Their minds are no longer according to the design of God. What is causing men to marry other men is not because they have some natural desires towards other men in their blood. It is because of the condition of their minds. Their minds are rejects.”

Makandiwa draws around 50,000 people to his church every week and is reported to own a large businesses empire that includes stakes in Zimbabwe Stock Exchange listed companies.

Gays and Lesbians of Zimbabwe (GALZ) responded in a statement that Makandiwa’s comments “perpetuate hate and wrong perceptions about LGBTI people” and were “unfortunate coming from a high-ranking church leader of his calibre.”

“As a man of the church, one would expect Prophet Makandiwa to do his gospel duty by standing alongside the marginalised and the social outcast,” said the group.

“One of the fundamental roles of the church is to foster love, unity, empathy and cohesion in society. This does not seem to be reflected in his offensive comments that serve only to reinforce the prejudice against LGBTI people in this country and encourage persecution.”

GALZ accused Makandiwa of “manipulating the authority of the church to fight political battles” and urged him to instead pray for a day when “the question of one’s sexuality will become irrelevant and discrimination against lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender people will be relegated to the same heap containing slavery, racism (including anti-Semitism), sexism and discrimination against socially marginalised groups and people.”

Gay sex and public affection are illegal in Zimbabwe, with penalties of up to three years in jail. Same-sex marriage is also illegal, as specified in the country’s constitution. Zimbabwe’s president, Robert Mugabe, has openly slated gays and lesbians for years and recently promised to further crack down on GALZ.

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