Zodwa Wabantu (Instagram)
As Zodwa Wabantu insists she can’t be homophobic because she has gay friends, there are calls to have the star’s reality show cancelled over her comments.
There’s growing outrage over the 33-year-old’s remarks on DSTV’s Zodwa Wabantu: Uncensored, in which she stereotyped gay men as bitchy, difficult and wanting to be women. She also said that women simply tolerate them.
The offensive remarks have led to a wave of anger against the media personality. Wabantu has now responded to the furore, dismissing claims that she is bigoted and defending her right to say what she wants.
“How can I be homophobic when I have more than 20 gay friends. Even my designer is gay. I was talking about my friends,” she told Sowetan Live.
Wabantu added: “I am talking about something that I have observed about them since they are my friends. Anyway, that is a reality show, I am calling it as I see it.”
The controversy shows no signs of abating. A petition demanding that her reality TV show be cancelled has already received more than 4,500 signatures.
Petition creator Musa Khawula writes that Wabantu’s comments “went through several producers or stages before it was decided that it will be broadcast without any person picking up that these comments were homophobic [and] therefore pose a threat to the members of the LGBT+ at large.”
In a press release, the ANC-aligned Embrace Diversity Political Movement (EDPM) expressed its “regret and discontent” at Wabantu’s “transphobic and homophobic” comments.
Spokesperson Mpho Buntse said the entertainer had “used her media privilege to distribute a statement that violates the safety of a group that remains vulnerable and subjected to stereotyping.”
The EDPM added that it will lodge complaints with the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa and the South African Human Rights Commission “as interventions to curb what could possibly lead to hate-motivated crimes.”
Debate about the issue is, at the time of writing this article, trending on Twitter in South Africa under the hashtag of “ZodwaCancelled”.
Czar (King) (@czar_mini) tweeted: “#ZodwaCancelled because she thinks gay people are second class ‘women’ who wish to have vaginas and are accommodated by first class women with vaginas. Who said we want vaginas…”
The issue also led to a flood of homophobic tweets defending Wabantu and attacking the LGBTQ community.
For example, Kanyo Sinyanya (@KanyoSinyanya), commented: “These things that homosexuals are doing of using sexuality to take over the world are actually one of the first prophecy Jesus gave in the Bible, there are over 2000 prophecies in the Bible and one of them is that sexuality will be used to eliminate Christianity.#ZodwaCancelled.”
Some of Wabantu’s supporters have started tweeting under their own slogan of “Save Zodwa Wabantu’s Show”. Moja Love, the channel that broadcasts the reality series on DSTV, have yet to address the controversy on their social media platforms.