Zimbabwean pulls out of Mr Gay World 2012

Published: February 27, 2012

The Mr Gay World contestant from Zimbabwe has pulled out of the competition citing personal reasons but organisers praised the “brave stand” he had taken by coming so far.

The Mr Gay World contestant from Zimbabwe has pulled out of the competition citing personal reasons but organisers praised the “brave stand” he had taken by coming so far.

The competition had been celebrating having more African contestants than even before with a total of four delegates, including black competitors for the first time.

Taurai Zhanje, however, announced he would not be competing at the weekend.

But homosexuality is illegal in Zimbabwe – as in 37 other African countries – and Taurai Zhanje’s claim to represent the country could spark a political firestorm.

Zimbabwe is in the final stages of drawing up a new constitution, and in advance of the publication of the final draft, President Robert Mugabe said he would reject any incorporation of homosexual rights.

Addressing chiefs in Zvishavane on February 16, Mugabe said: "All of us at some point in our lives have raised dogs, and we know that in raising them, you need a female and male to mate in order to have puppies.

"Now, if even dogs know that to procreate you need a male and a female, what of us humans?

"They want men to wed men! That’s what we reject."

On Saturday, the Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe, 88, during a speech he gave at his recent lavish birthday party, reacted to the British Prime Minister David Cameron’s call in support of gay rights, saying, "to hell with you."

Mugabe said gays are "worse than pigs and dogs because pigs know there are males and females. I won’t even call him (gay) a dog because my own dog will complain."

Mugabe, made it clear in the speech broadcast by the country’s state-owned television network that his country Zimbabwe, would never tolerate homosexuality or give support to gay rights. He said emphatically: "We reject that outright and say to hell with you. You, David Cameron, are you suggesting that you don’t know that, or is it some kind of insanity or part of the culture of Europeans?"

Mugabe in the televised speech addressed to his mobs of around 20,000 supporters during the birthday rally in the eastern city of Mutare, said: "In their newspapers, that’s one of my sins. That I called (gays) worse than pigs and dogs because pigs know there are males and females. I won’t even call him a dog because my own dog will complain. It’s even in the Bible that you create through the system of marrying. That’s how we were born, so we reject that outright and say to hell with you.You are free as a man to marry a woman and that is what we follow. That’s what produced you and me. This kind of insanity is now part of the culture of Europe and the United States."

Mr Gay World’s Director for Africa, Coenie Kukkuk said: “We are sad to loose 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 added that while efforts would be made to replace Taurai, the political climate for gay men along with gay women, bisexuals and trans people made it unlikely another African contestant would step forward.

Of the competition’s aims, organisers add: “The delegate chosen to represent his peers on a global stage will not only have the inner beauty of confidence, self assurance, charisma and natural leadership abilities but he will also take care in his outward appearance. He will also have knowledge of LGBTI general history and recent news.”

Samuel Kneen, the current Mr Gay UK, will be representing Great Britain and Northern Ireland at the competition

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