Europe’s delegates to the Mr Gay World competition in South Africa have been revealed.

Eleven contestants aged between 21 and 42 will be sent by the continent.

Among them will be 23-year-old Samuel Kneen, who won the title of Mr Gay UK 2011.

Gay men from Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, The Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom will head to South Africa for the competition this April.

Tore Aasheim, European Area Director at Mr Gay World and Mr Gay Europe President, said: “Europe has the biggest delegation in Mr Gay World and it is about time we bring the trophy back to the continent.”

South Africa, which is hosting the competition this year, has won the title for the last two years.

In February, competition organisers unveiled what they believed to be the first ever gay-themed billboard in Africa. The placard went up near Melrose Arch on M1 South in Johannesburg on 28 February.

But it was also announced that Taurai Zhanje, Zimbabwe’s delegate and one of the first gay contestants to enter the competition, had been forced to pull out of the competition.

Mr Gay World’s Director for Africa, Coenie Kukkuk said: “We are sad to loose Taurai, but in Africa, the personal sacrifice for gay and human rights is sometimes too much to expect from people.

“Taurai already made a very brave stand against the oppression of the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual and intersex persons and we have to respect his decision. We wish him and his family only the best for the future.”

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

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