Jaason Simmons, known to millions across the world as hunky lifeguard Logan Fowler in beach soap opera Baywatch, has come out to an Australian magazine.

The 37-year-old actor plans to marry his partner, Irish actor John O’Callaghan.

The couple, who have been together for eight months, have also adopted a six-year-old Ugandan boy.

The decision to go public about their relationship has been praised by gay rights advocates.

Simmons was born in Tasmania, and the Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group spokesperson, Rodney Croome, said that many young gay people on the island still grow up feeling isolated and stigmatised.

“The success of Jaason Simmons, both in his professional and personal life, sends a message to young gay Tasmanians that they can achieve their goals, and need not be limited by other people’s prejudices”, he added.

The couple told Australia’s New Idea magazine:

“We’re doing it for our family and for my soon-to-be son.

“Although you don’t want to typecast yourself, you have to take responsibility and ownership and move humanity forward, out of bigotry.

“Our son needs to see we can stand in front of family and loved ones who are going to support our union through the good times and bad.”

It is estimated that one billion people in 142 countries tuned in to watch Simmons play Australian lifeguard Logan Fowler in Baywatch.

He starred in the show with Pamela Anderson and David Hasslehoff for three years before going on to star in a number of different projects both on stage and screen.

The couple, who live in California, plan to marry in Canada as same-sex unions are not recognised in the US or Australia.

Mr Simmons hopes that by coming out he will raise awareness of African adoption, which has become increasingly popular.

In 2006 Madonna travelled to the African nation of Malawi.

Soon after her trip, news broke that she and husband, Guy Ritchie, were adopting a 13-month-old boy named David.

In 2005 Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt adopted a five year old child from Ethiopia, they now have four children, three of them adopted.

Approximately 12 million children in sub-Saharan Africa are estimated to be orphaned by AIDS.