28 February 2012

Zimbabwe: Gay Zim Man Pulls Out of International Competition

A gay Zimbabwean man who was set to represent the country at the fourth annual Mr. Gay World competition in South Africa in April has pulled out of the event, citing 'personal reasons'.

Taurai Zhanje was one of three black Africans making history by entering the contest, which has never had gay black African entrants before. The other black delegates representing Africa are Robel Gizaw Hailu from Ethiopia and Wendelinus Hamutenya from Namibia.

Taurai's decision to represent Zimbabwe was greeted with a very mixed reaction, with anger on one side from traditionalist Zimbabweans, and pride from gay rights activists and supporters.

He has now pulled out of the event, although it's not yet clear what has motivated this decision.

Mr. Gay World's Director for Africa, Coenie Kukkuk, said in a statement over the weekend: "We are sad to lose Taurai, but in Africa the personal sacrifice for gay and human rights is sometimes too much to expect from people."

"Taurai already made a very brave stand against the oppression of the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual and intersex persons and we have to respect his decision. We wish him and his family only the best for the future," Kukkuk said.

Kukkuk added that while efforts would be made to replace Taurai, the political climate in Africa made it unlikely that another African contestant would step forward.

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