One Qatari official isn’t even pretending to be tolerant of homosexuality leading up to the World Cup.
Khalid Salman, a former Qatari soccer player and the nation’s FIFA World Cup ambassador, said Monday in an interview with German broadcaster ZDF that homosexuality is “damage in the mind.”
“The most important thing is, everybody will accept that they come here. But they will have to accept our rules,” he said, via CNN.
Salman added he doesn’t want children to learn “something that is not good.”
An official from the World Cup organizing committee abruptly stopped the interview after Salman’s anti-gay spiel, according to CNN.
ZDF tweeted a clip of the interview, in which an unidentified person says Salman “isn’t the best person to comment on the law.”
Der katarische WM-Botschafter Khalid Salman bezeichnet Homosexualität als „geistigen Schaden". Das äußert er in der ZDF-Doku „Geheimsache Katar“.— ZDF sportstudio (@sportstudio) November 8, 2022
Der komplette Film ab jetzt hier: https://t.co/6QEUNDHXEJ und ab 20.15 Uhr im @ZDF@jochenbreyer @Fried_julia @ZDFheute #katar pic.twitter.com/VXU3wPbctz
The dangerous situation for LGBTQ people in Qatar has been a major story leading up to the World Cup. It is illegal to be gay in the tiny desert nation, and homosexuality can lead to imprisonment or even death.
Just last month, the Human Rights Watch published a new report documenting Qatari arrests and abuses of gay people. Nasser Mohamed, a Qatari-born physician now living in San Francisco, recently sounded the alarm in an essay for Outsports about the dismal state of LGBTQ rights in his home country.
“Some of my friends have told me stories about online chat rooms and how undercover cops are arresting men trying to meet other men in a romantic setting,” he writes. “I also heard about lashing and prison sentences.”
European captains plan to wear “One Love” armbands at the tournament to support LGBTQ inclusion and diversity, though FIFA would probably prefer they didn’t. FIFA president Gianni Infantino sent a letter last week to all 32 World Cup clubs urging players to stay quiet about social and political issues.
An estimated 1.5 million international visitors are expected to visit Qatar while the World Cup is in progress from Nov. 20 through Dec. 18. Salman’s comments can’t make any potential LGBTQ tourists feel comfortable, despite vague assurances that gay soccer fans won’t be prosecuted for showing signs of affection in public.
Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter, who presided over the corrupt process that awarded Qatar the World Cup, said this week it was a mistake to do so.
Too bad he didn’t come to this realization 12 years ago.