South Africa has replaced Hong Kong as the new host of the global gay pageant, Mr Gay World.
Mr Gay World’s organizers made the decision after a ‘clampdown’ on LGBTI events on mainland China.
‘It is with great disappointment that I’ve been informed that Mr Gay World will not be able to go ahead in Hong Kong due to the struggles that our Chinese colleagues and their families are facing in their homeland,’ said president and founder of Mr Gay World, Eric Butter.
‘The safety of our delegates and their families is of utmost importance.’
Hong Kong is an administrative region of China and generally regarded as more progressive. In 2022, Hong Kong will become the first Asian nation to host the Gay Games.
But allegedly the production company responsible for putting on the 2019 event is based in mainland China. The company reportedly had been having trouble with Chinese authorities.
Due to run from 28 April to 4 May, Mr Gay World will head back to South Africa in 2019. Mr Gay World confirmed Cape Town will replace Hong Kong as the 2019 host. South Africa has successfully hosted the event three times; in Johannesburg and earlier this year in Knysna.
Mr Gay World chose Hong Kong to host because it is ‘a popular destination for global supporters of the LGBTQ+ community’. But organizers said Hong Kong did have a long way to go on issues such as marriage equality.
Australian Jordan Bruno won the top prize in Knysna.
‘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,’ Bruno said.
‘I’m really looking forward to returning to South Africa. The spirit and inclusion of the country is strongly reflected in the values of Mr Gay World, and I can’t help but feel it is the perfect country to once again host the competition.’
Mr Gay World in China
Homosexuality is not illegal in China, but LGBTI topics remain very taboo in the Asian country. The country does not allow the positive portrayal of LGBTI people in film and television, and even, social media.
While China does not criminalize the LGBTI community it has used its laws barring public assembly to prevent LGBTI events from going ahead. Police detained organizers of a LGBTI conference detained and questioned for nine hours in the north-western city of Xian.
Organizers of a LGBTI conference in China’s most ‘gay friendly city’, Chengdu, kept having their plans to hold the conference thwarted when venues kept cancelling their booking at the last minute. Speak Out tried to host the conference in Chengdu but were repeatedly told venues has been double-booked and cancelling their reservations.
In May, footage emerged of private security staff attacking LGBTI people who handing out rainbow badges in Beijing. Police arrived at the scene but did not arrest anyone, event the security staff.