Mr Gay World organisation weighing legal steps after winner hands back sash
South Africa's Louw Breytenbach has resigned as Mr Gay World after a fallout with the pageant's organisers.
Louw Breytenbach has resigned as Mr Gay World. Picture: Instagram
Louw Breytenbach has taken a stance against Mr Gay World pageant organisers and relinquished his title.
Breytenbach was crowned Mr Gay World in October 2021, the first South African to take the crown in 10 years, since Francois Nel won the title in 2011, and Charl van den Berg in 2010.
According to a statement, Breytenbach resigned after refusing to sign the pageant’s contract, calling it “unconstitutional and opaque”.
Where did it all go wrong?
The statement, released by publicist Gavin Wildschutt-Prins, said Breytenbach’s relationship with Mr Gay World CEO, John-Louis O’Neil, and its chairperson, Johann van Niekerk, had deteriorated.
Winners are sent a contract, however, Breytenbach refused to sign it, resulting in a legal battle.
The contract stipulates that Mr Gay World must be his exclusive agent when he lands any bookings or acting roles.
Breytenbach says he already had an agent in the field of TV.
“I don’t need them to manage whatever TV opportunities I get. My suggestion was that they manage me based on opportunities pertaining to the pageant and my role as Mr Gay World,” he said.
He claims the initial contract mentioned remuneration but the document was vague and provided no extra details. When he was sent an amendment of the contract, it excluded any mention of remuneration.
The contract allegedly detailed that if Breytenbach leaves the pageant for whatever reason, a penalty of €5,000 would apply.
“This penalty is unlawful. What if they are in breach of contract, should I still pay the penalty? This does not make sense,” he said.
Breytenbach’s biggest concern is the organisation’s “inability to be audited when they refused to divulge how funds are used for the Mr Gay World Foundation”.
“I think it is my right to know what happens to [the] money that I raise for the organisation in my capacity as Mr Gay World. Who is benefiting from all of [these] sponsorships?” he asks.
Breytenbach has long been on the ground leading LGBTQIA events. He led a Gay Pride march in Namibia last week and was not given any funds towards his expenses. He claims the pageant’s lawyers demanded he tag Mr Gay World in his social media posts.
He tried to meet with the parties involved but they allegedly refused to meet with him. Breytenbach concluded that his image was being “abused”.
“I am disappointed as I really thought the Mr Gay World competition was a platform I could use to broaden my charity work. I also thought they had the interests of the LGBTQI+ community at heart. Sadly, I was wrong.”
Mr Gay World response:
Mr Gay World confirms it has received the resignation of the current titleholder, Louw Breytenbach from South Africa, following a contractual dispute, despite our best attempts to resolve the matter amicably and reasonably.
We also note the unfortunate press release issued on Mr Breytenbach’s behalf which includes a series of defamatory allegations about the organisation and its officials.
We strongly refute these allegations and thoroughly reject Mr Breytenbach’s version of the events as described. Mr Gay World is meeting with its legal team to decide what steps to take and will not issue any further comment for the moment
This article has been updated to include the Mr Gay World organisation’s response.
Complied by Sandisiwe Mbhele