International LGBTQ+ competition, Mr Gay World 2019 is coming to Cape Town next year after abandoning their original venue in Hong Kong. The move comes after a clampdown on LGBTQ+ events and campaigns by the Chinese government forced the local organising company, which is based on the Chinese mainland, to pull out.
Eric Butter, president and founder of Mr Gay World, expressed regret with the decision but said it was ultimately necessary. “The safety of our delegates and their families is of utmost importance,” he said.
His sentiments were shared by Australian-born Jordan Bruno, the current Mr Gay World who won the 2018 title in Knysna, South Africa in May this year. “I’m disappointed in the Chinese authorities for being unwilling to celebrate and uphold LGBTQ+ equality but their stance demonstrates why Mr Gay World is still such a relevant and important competition.”
Chairperson of the board of directors at Mr Gay World, Igor Scheurkogel noted that next year’s competition has special significance since 2019 will mark the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, a series of demonstrations by the LGBTQ+ community in the USA to protest police abuse. The event is widely considered to mark the start of the modern LGBTQ+ rights movement.
“In light of the Stonewall anniversary, Mr Gay World has a unique opportunity to highlight the homophobic response by Chinese authorities as another clear sign that LGBTQ+ people remain under pressure in many parts of the world,” Scheurkogel said.
According to Scheurkogel, South Africa was an ideal replacement for Hong Kong as it is the only country on the African continent to offer marriage equality and constitutional protection to its LGBTQ+ citizens. South Africa has hosted Mr Gay World three times previously: first in 2012, then in 2015, and again in 2018.
Mr Gay World 2019 will start on April 28 and will run until May 4. For more information, visit their website.