The 2012 Mr Gay World competition is to be held at Gold Reef City in Johannesburg, South Africa, this Sunday, but some of the African competitors will be absent or participating apprehensively.

Taurai Zhanje, the Zimbabwean entrant, has been forced to withdraw owing to the relentless pressure of his country’s government on his family.

In total, 25 men from across the world will compete, but only three of them will be from Africa. It will also be the first time black Africans take part in the competition.

Africa was supposed to be represented by its host country, Namibia, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe. Potential entrants from Tanzania, Ghana and Kenya could not take part owing to a lack of support or sponsorship.

Like Mr Zhanje, the Ethiopian delegate Robel Hailu had threats made on his life when his candidacy was announced on Ethiopian radio. He was also disinherited by his family, but will still take part. Namibia’s representative, Wendelinus Hamutenya, was attacked in early December and hospitalised.

The South African representative, Lance Weyer, is a local councillor in the Buffalo City Metropolitan Municipality.

Whoever wins on Sunday will receive a R50 000 cash prize. He will then be appointed the official ambassador for the LGBT community of South Africa, which is the only country on the continent where gay marriages are allowed.