For a while there, it seemed like Hong Kong was about to become the epicentre of the LGBT+ world. Not only was it selected as the location for the 2019 Mr Gay World competition, it was also announced as the host for the next instalment of the Gay Games in 2022.
However, in a complete reversal, the organisers of Mr Gay World have announced the competition will now be relocated to South Africa due to a lack of welcome from Chinese authorities towards LGBT+ themed events.
The Chinese company co-organising the event faced pressure from local authorities who do not want to promote LGBT+ views. The chair of Mr Gay World, Igor Scheurkogel announced “The issue is that the Chinese authority is coming down hard on the company and has issued a warning that it stop promoting LGBT rights, activities commercial or otherwise in China”.
Due to pressures imposed by authorities, the hosting company had stopped responding to organisers requests for information. Sensing growing tension, the president of the organisation, Eric Butter, announced “The safety of our delegates and their families is of utmost importance.” He continued, “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.”
The competition will return to South Africa, where this year’s instalment already took place. It was won by Australia’s Jordan Bruno.
It’s a sorry turn of events considering the initially positive outlook the local hosting company had. At the time, their spokesman Charles Sun had said: “We have many challenges in our country, especially when it comes to LGBTQ+ rights. But we are hoping that our government will see the financial benefits events like these have on our economy.”
What this means for the 2022 Gay Games remains to be seen, although with a message of tolerance and inclusivity, organisers may find themselves dealing with a country whose views don’t quite gel.
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