The organisers of Mr Gay World believe they had unveiled the first ever gay-themed billboard in Africa.

The placard went up near Melrose Arch on M1 South in Johannesburg yesterday and is the competition’s second ‘first’.

Mr Gay World had been celebrating having its first ever black contestants in the 2012 event.

Representatives had been confirmed from Namibia, South Africa, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe.

Coenie Kukkuk, Africa Director for Mr. Gay World told Mambaonline.com: “It’s a major development. It’s the first time that black Africans will participate, which sends out a powerful message of hope to LGBTI people in Africa.”

Shortly after, the delegate for Zimbabwe, Taurai Zhanje, was forced to pull out for personal reasons.

Organisers praised his “very brave stand against the oppression of the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual and intersex persons and we have to respect his decision”.

A South African man won Mr Gay World in 2010 and 2011 and so the country will host the competition again this year.

The 2012 Mr Gay World competition will be held in its largest city, Johannesburg, from 4 to 8 April.

The competition says it aims “to advance national and international gay rights through education and public performance”.

In December last year, shortly after he was crowned the first-ever Mr. Gay Namibia, Hamutenya was assaulted by men who demanded his winnings.