Is the World Cup safe for LGBTQ athletes and fans?

When Nasser Mohammeda Qatari doctor who now lives in San Francisco, gave an interview told the BBC in May about LGBTQ rights abuses in his home country, little did he know he might be the first person from Qatar to come out publicly as gay.

“I looked around a bit for other people and I couldn’t find them,” Mohamed told [email protected] on Friday, two days before the 2022 World Cup began in Qatar. “The previous night [the BBC] I let out, I said to myself: ‘You are very brave. He doesn’t get discouraged if he has already said it and people don’t care, and no one listens to him. ”

But that was not the case. The whole of Qatar heard the interview because it was broadcast in Arabic from the BBC. Mohamed, 35, who was separated from his family in 2015 after he went out to his motherShe says she received a lot of hateful responses, but she also connected with a lot of queer Qataris for the first time.

His main goal now is to generate as much visibility as possible for LGBTQ issues in Qatar before international journalists leave when the World Cup ends.

Is the World Cup safe for LGBTQ athletes and fans? IMG 6508
Nasser Mohamed, a Qatari doctor living in San Francisco, urged Human Rights Watch to investigate the abuse of LGBTQ people in Qatar ahead of the 2022 World Cup and established the Alwan Foundation, the first nonprofit to advocate for LGBTQ communities in the Persian Gulf region. Photo courtesy of Nasser Mohamed

“I hope we have a platform. There is still a long way to go, but visibility is the first step,” she says.

Mohamed has recently established the alwan foundationthe first non-profit organization to advocate for LGBTQ communities in the Persian Gulf region and collect evidence-based data on their living conditions and rights violations.

He was also the main force behind the recently released Human Rights Watch. report on LGBTQ abuse persons by the Qatari authorities. He helped the international organization collect evidence for the report and connect with victims of abuse who described the ill-treatment that took place in September.

The illegality of same-sex relationships under Qatari law has been widely discussed in the press and on social media since the country won the bid to host the World Cup in 2010. Both LGBTQ soccer fans Y players they have been questioning whether it would be safe for them to go to Qatar for the event.

“These [LGBTQ rights] These are extremely important rights. They go to the most fundamental aspects of humanity and human expression, and human identity, and just being human and fully realizing yourself,” he says. Alexandra Meisteaching associate professor at Northeastern Law School.

LGBTQ rights are part of human rights

LGBTQ rights are part of the human rights inherent to all human beings without discrimination, according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rightswhich is part of the International Bill of Human Rights adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations.

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However, the extent of the international consensus on LGBTQ rights is a tricky question, says Meise.

“If you look at the last 10 or 15 years, you’ll see a growth in recognition of LGBTQ rights around the world, broadly speaking,” he says. “And if you look at just one measure of that, the number of countries that have legalized same-sex marriage in some form, that’s a significant change in the last two decades.”

But such growth is not universal. There is a subset of states that have actively expressed their intention that human rights not be extended to cover sexual orientation or gender identity, Meise says. There are also countries that actively resist efforts to expressly codify protections for LGBTQ people in some way.

photo by alexander meise (left) and dan danielsen (right)
Alexandra (Xander) Meise, a law professor, left, and Dan Danielsen. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeast University and courtesy photo

Qatar is among 11 countries in the world that have the death penalty as one of the possible punishments for consensual homosexual behavior, according to ILGA Worldthe International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association.

Same-sex sexual relations between men are illegal, even if they are consensual. Penalties include lashing, lengthy prison sentences and/or deportation for foreign nationals, according to the US Department of State..

There is no law that penalizes sexual relations between women of the same sex, however, in practice they are also persecuted, says Mohamed.

The state conducts cyber surveillance, tries to shut down venues, and infiltrates LGBTQ groups to arrest them, according to Human Rights Watch. report. LGBTQ people are detained by the Department of Preventive Security, a law enforcement agency, Mohamed says, and are jailed for weeks or months, sometimes without charge. There they are verbally and physically abused, tortured and sexually harassed, the Human Rights Watch reports.

Qatar subjects LGBTQ people to conversion therapy

The state also subjects LGBTQ people in Qatar to conversion therapy, according to Human Rights Watch.

Mohamed says the treatment LGBTQ people experience in Qatar cannot be fully explained by religious beliefs.

“I can definitely argue that the kind of persecution Qatar is subjecting us to is against Islam,” he says, “because Islam does not support kidnapping and torturing people. And that’s what they do to us.”