Mr Gay raises storm in Africa

SETTING THE STAGE: A billboard advertising the Mr Gay World finals which will take place at Gold Reef City, Johannesburg, on Sunday. PHOTO: MABUTI KALI
SETTING THE STAGE: A billboard advertising the Mr Gay World finals which will take place at Gold Reef City, Johannesburg, on Sunday. PHOTO: MABUTI KALI

WITH an important world event taking place for the first time on the African continent this weekend, it is the African participants who face the most intense discrimination and prejudice.

The 2012 Mr Gay World competition will culminate in the gala finals on Sunday evening at Gold Reef City in Johannesburg, but some of the competitors from Africa will be absent, or participating with trepidation.

Altogether 25 men from across the globe will compete, only three of them will be from Africa. It will also be the first time black Africans take part.

Originally, Africa was to be represented by South Africa, Namibia, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe, as a lack of sponsorship and funding prevented delegates from Tanzania, Ghana and Kenya from taking part.

But because of relentless government pressure on his family, the Zimbabwean delegate, Taurai Zhanje, has had to withdraw.

Namibia's representative, Wendelinus Hamutenya, was attacked in early December and landed in hospital.

The Ethiopian delegate, Robel Hailu, is a student in South Africa and after his candidacy was announced on Ethiopian radio a storm broke out in his home country.

There were threats on his life and he was disinherited by his family.

South Africans Charl van den Berg and Francois Nel were Mr Gay World in 2010 and 2011 respectively, bringing home the honour of winning a world event twice in a row.

Lance Weyer, a local councillor in the Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality in East London, is the country's representative this year.

South Africa is the only country on the continent where gay marriages are allowed.

The grand finale will be hosted by local stars Soli Philander and Cathy Specific, organisers announced. They will be joined on stage by local group African Umoja, and international performers such as Ukraine's top pop star, Kamaliya and guest artist Baby M from Japan, as well as local stars Terrence Bridgett and Alexander Steyn.

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