King Goodwill Zwelithini. Picture: Phumlani Thabethe
The Zulu Royal Household has criticised what it called a "reckless translation" of King Goodwill Zwelithini's speech on Sunday.
"At no stage did His Majesty condemn gay relations or same sex relations," Prince Mbonisi Zulu said.
It was reported on Monday that the king criticised people who engaged in same sex relationships, calling them "rotten".
"Traditionally, there were no people who engaged in same sex relationships. There was nothing like that and if you do it, you must know that you are rotten," he was quoted as saying in The Times.
"I don't care how you feel about it. If you do it, you must know that it is wrong and you are rotten. Same sex is not acceptable."
He was speaking at Nquthu, in northern KwaZulu-Natal, during the 133rd annual commemoration of the January 22, 1879 battle of Isandlwana.
Zulu said the newspaper translated the Zulu monarch's speech incorrectly.
"The main focus of his speech was on the creation of a compassionate society with men protecting the vulnerable members of society, especially the elderly, women, and children."
Zulu said the king had said that in the past men would go for months in battles to fight the enemy without their wives, and that they did not harass each other sexually.
"He said nowadays you even have men who rape other men. The king said this was a clear sign of moral decay and he said he condemned those involved, no matter who they were."