With the FIFA World Cup approaching at the end of November, soccer fans and activists alike have been outspoken about host nation Qatar’s brutal stance towards LGBTQ+ people.
Authorities in Qatar arbitrarily arrest LGBTQ+ people, subject them to beatings, and require them to undergo conversion therapy as a condition of release, according to human rights watchdogs. Same-sex relations are illegal in Qatar and are punishable by the death penalty.
Despite these policies, Qatar has officially stated that all fans will be welcomed without discrimination. Many LGBTQ+ advocates are skeptical. Andrew Boff, a member of the London Assembly in the UK, commented: “Obviously, when you go to a country, you respect their traditions, but 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 LGBTQ+ people.”
Dr. Nasser Mohamed, a gay activist from Qatar, worries the conversation has focused too much on visitors. He noted that assurances, while perhaps comforting to foreigners, underscore the Qatari government’s abysmal attitude toward the human rights of its own residents.