Has Somizi been banned from Zambia for being gay?

Pic: MambaOnline.com

Local media reports claim that South African personality Somizi Mhlongo has been banned from taking part in an event in Zambia because he is gay.

Mhlongo was invited to be an official guest at the glamorous Lusaka July 2019 polo and fashion event on 13 July. The event’s publicity company, PR Girl Media, last week tweeted: “It’s not a secret anymore, an invitation has been sent out to fashion icon Somizi to attend the Lusaka July. We are just as anxious as you are for a YES!”

However, according to the Lusaka Times, the Times Of Zambia reported that the country’s government “has banned” him from attending.

“Every country has laws. Here in Zambia, we have a constitution that guides citizens on morals and its Christian values,” the Minister of Religious Affairs, Godridah Sumaili, was quoted as commenting. “We do not condone gayism. it is a crime and inviting such people means we are slowly accepting the vice,” she apparently said.

MambaOnline has been unable to verify the report. In a post on its Facebook page, PR Girl Media claimed that the article was “fake news” but did not elaborate. The company has not yet responded to our request for further details.

MambaOnline did, however, speak to Mhlongo’s manager, Thato Matuka, who confirmed that his client was invited to be a guest at the Lusaka July. A quote for his appearance fee has been sent to the organisers but a contract has not been signed.

“It’s as far as it went [so far],” Matuka said. He had no information about Mhlongo being restricted from attending the event. “My team has just brought it to my attention, but directly not really much has been communicated to us.”

He added that when attending events like these, Mhlongo “would always want to push the boundaries because he is an activist for the LGBTI community, and push his advocacy for acceptance for the community, within reason.”

Zambia’s penal code prohibits same-sex sexual activity and individuals who have been convicted face imprisonment of up to 14 years.

In February, pan African broadcaster Multichoice was ordered by Zambia’s broadcast regulator to cancel a reality show, called Lusaka Hustle, after a public outcry that it was “promoting homosexuality”. This was because one of the featured celebrities, singer Kuni (Mukuni Godfrey Mulundika) exhibited “gay tendencies”.

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