Today the Mr. Gay World competition begins in the South Africa, where new countries are joining the contest for the very first time.
Since last year’s winner was from South Africa, delegates from various nations are this year gathering in Johannesburg to represent their countries, including black contestants from African nations. Meet Australia’s contestant here.
One of the main goals of the Mr Gay World organisation and the competition itself is to promote a more positive image of gay people as well as equality with their heterosexual counterparts. Given that discrimination and inequality is rife among African nations, having black African contestants in this year’s event is a significant step forward.
It’s common in many African nations for gay people to have little to no rights or homosexuality to be completely outlawed. In some cases gays and lesbians are prosecuted with the full force of the law and threatened with punishment including the death penalty.
Initially there were three black African contestants, representing Namibia, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe however due to relentless pressure from his family, the contestant from Zimbabwe has withdrawn from the competition.
When the candidacy of Ethiopian Robel Hailu (pictured below) was announced on local radio it caused outrage across the country with Robel receiving death threats and eventually being disowned by his family. This demonstrates the kind of pressure and discrimination that gay people face so harshly in these nations.
As Namibia and Ethiopia begin the competition we at Same Same will be cheering them on for their bravery and determination to represent their countries and fight for LGBTI equality as proud gay men.