Very disappointing. The Mr. Gay World contestant from Zimbabwe has withdrawn from the competition citing "personal reasons." The move comes only days after the contest celebrated having its first Black contestants from African nations—and as Taurai Zhanje endured bitter criticism at home, reports ZimEye.
Taurai Zhanje, who last week was verbally attacked by many from his local community, pulled out of the contest citing personal reasons. ... Zhanje would not elaborate what he meant by ‘personal reasons.’ Zhanje’s intentions had been celebrated by many organisations in the gay community.
Zhanje was to participate in the fourth annual Mr. Gay World competition which will be held April 4-8 in Johannesburg, South Africa . "For the first time in the competition’s short history there will be Black African entrants," noted The Zimbabwean, a diaspora newspaper published in London. "The Black delegates representing Africa are Taurai, Robel Gizaw Hailu from Ethiopia, Wendelinus Hamutenya from Namibia, while South Africa is being represented by Lance Weyer."
"It's a major development. It's the first time that black Africans will participate, which sends out a powerful message of hope to LGBTI people in Africa. A message that there are role models and that one can live as a successful and open LGBTI person," said Coenie Kukkuk, Africa Director for Mr. Gay World. "It's significant that an Ethiopian delegate is participating. The capital city Addis Ababa is the seat of the African Union, so it sends a strong political message.”
You may recall that Wendelinus Hamutenya, who won the first Mr. Gay Namibia contest in December, was robbed and beaten after the contest. Hamutenya was assaulted "by two men who [approached] him and requested the money" he won in the contest.
Same-sex acts are currently illegal in Zimbabwe, as they are in at least 38 of 54 African countries. Four nations—Mauritania, Nigeria, Somalia and Sudan—boast the death penalty for gays or same-sex activity. South Africa and Seychelles are the only African nations that protect LGBT rights. The neighboring Republic of South Africa is also the only African nation to guarantee marriage equality.
In related news: Zimbabwe's notoriously notoriously anti-gay President Robert Mugabe celebrated his 88th birthday over the weekend with a fresh round of gay-bashing. Mugabe slammed British Prime Minister David Cameron's call to support of gay rights and said "to hell with you."
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