South Africa launches “bold” Mr Gay World bid

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

The African country’s bid to host the international Mr Gay World competition in 2012 will be made in a period of growing homophobia, the Guardian reports.

While South Africa has enjoyed a constitution which “recognises same-sex partnerships and condemns discrimination”, it seems to be “backtracking” on gay rights, according to the paper’s Poverty Matters blog. reported this year on Uganda’s widely condemned anti-homosexuality bill, which would heighten the severity of punishments available for the offence to include the death penalty and life imprisonment.

At the same time, a Ugandan publication began naming gays and lesbians, before a High Court order forbade them from printing further identities.

Earlier this year, a couple in Malawi were sentenced to 14 years’ imprisonment for “gross indecency” and “unnatural acts”. They, however, were pardoned by president Yoweri Museveni.

Controversy struck the international community recently when the UN general assembly’s human rights committee supported the removal of the words “sexual orientation” from its list of grounds on which to protect people from execution.

The move was supported by the South African government.

The current holder of the Mr Gay World title is Charl van den Berg, himself South African.

Coenie Kukkuk, the director of the bid to host Mr Gay World 2012, said: “Charl is a gay role model who gives courage to gays all over Africa and shows them their lives are about more than repression, torture, HIV and prison sentences.

“That message will be enhanced if we can elect the 2012 Mr Gay World on African soil, where the vast majority of governments are anti-gay and are currently hardening their repressive laws.”

The winner of the 2012 bidding process will be announced in the Philippines on 13 March next year.

To read the Guardian article in full, click here.