World Cup 2022 is taking place in Qatar, and LGBT people are nervous about it.
Despite some “assurances” from FIFA and the organizing committee in Qatar, fear about imprisonment of LGBT people, and even execution, remain.
Oh what’s the big deal? Why are people afraid? There are good reasons, and we’ve compiled a bunch of them. Namely: The World Cup is being held in a country where people can be imprisoned or executed for being gay.
No one of these things captures the entirety of the potential problems that LGBT people — be they visitors or residents — face in Qatar (though No. 1 certainly encapsulates the biggest issue).
1) LGBTQ people can be imprisoned or executed for being gay in Qatar
Like dozens of countries around the world, in Qatar people visiting the country can be arrested for being LGBTQ, and Muslims can be executed for it. Yes, you read that right. Sadly, it’s the situation in most countries dominated by Sharia law, largely in the Middle East and Africa.
2) Human Rights Watch report details physical abuse of LGBT people by security
A Human Rights Watch report in October chronicled various stories of LGBT people in Qatar being arrested, assaulted and beaten by “security forces” in the country. Here’s what the report says, and it reflects what gay Qatari Nasser Mohamed wrote for Outsports earlier this year.
3) This Qatari journalist has been open about his hatred for gays
Sports Media LGBT+ founder Jon Holmes unearthed this since deleted tweet from Qatari journalist Abdulla Alamadi:
A tweet from a prominent Qatari journalist and columnist who works for Al Jazeera and has 57,000+ followers on a verified account.— Jon Holmes (@jonboy79) October 29, 2022
“Everyone is welcome” at this #FIFAWorldCup, we were told… pic.twitter.com/ddWtq2haQa
We have no idea why Alamadi thinks LGBTQ fans boycotting the World Cup would lead to a “clean sporting event,” as no one has ever received a red card for their ability to serve Mean Girls quotes or putting the referees in their burn book. Regardless, that line about “abnormal ideas and tendencies” is appalling and feels like someone from Qatari media is saying the quiet part out loud.
4) Executive at major Qatari sports academy disapproves of homosexuality
Salah al-yafei is an executive at Aspire Academy, a major sports academy in Qatar. He spoke openly about the importance of expressing disapproval to any child who hints about homosexuality.
5) World Cup ambassador says being gay is “damage in the mind”
In an interview with German network ZDF, former Qatari soccer player and current World Cup ambassador Khalid Salman declared that being gay is “haram” (a violation of Islamic law). He went on to state that “It is damage in the mind” and that if LGBTQ visitors express themselves freely in Qatar, children may learn “something that is not good.” You know...like tolerance.
6) The UK urged to change its Qatar travel advice for LGBT people
“The mere fact that being gay, or lesbian, or trans is illegal in Qatar and will open you up for prosecution means it is not a safe place for LGBT+ people to travel to and the government advice should clearly say that,” said Andrew Boff, deputy chair of the London Assembly and a leading Conservative gay-rights campaigner, according to the BBC.
7) Various officials have warned LGBT people to stay away or get in line
British foreign secretary James Cleverly has told LGBT to “respect the laws” in Qatar, which means same-sex couples will be arrested if they hold hands in the street. Labour MP Chris Bryant has told everyone — particularly LGBT fans — to stay away from Qatar. In other words: If you go and you do something Qatar doesn’t like, you’re on your own.
8) Organizers and the media will “sportswash” the whole thing
As some organizers and officials have already instructed us, they want everyone to stop talking about social issues and human rights and just enjoy the soccer. The folks at FIFA and in Qatar want the excellent play of some of the world’s greatest athletes in the tournament itself to enhance their reputations around the world. So far, Fox Sports in the United States has been posting some stories on their website about the controversy. Hopefully that heats up and it makes it to the airwaves. When the United States plays Iran in Group B, that will be the perfect opportunity.
These were compiled by Outsports staff: Ken Schultz, Cyd Zeigler, Jim Buzinski and Alex Reimer.