LGBTQ fans told to ‘compromise’ for Qatar World Cup by U.K. diplomat

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Britain’s foreign secretary James Cleverly said on Wednesday that LGBT fans should be “respectful” and show “flexibility and compromise” during the upcoming men’s World Cup in Qatar, drawing sharp criticism from the UK media, lawmakers and the prime minister’s office.

Speaking deftly on talk radio station LBC, he said Qatar was making “certain compromises for what you know is an Islamic country where the cultural norms are very different from our own”. In return, he said, fans should “respect the host country – they will do that, they try to make sure people can be themselves and enjoy football”.

“I think with a bit of flexibility and compromise at both ends it could be a safe, secure and fun World Cup,” he added.

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Critics said Cleverly, a member of the centre-right Conservatives and a supporter of same-sex marriage rights, was essentially asking LGBT fans to hide their identity in a country where homosexuality is a crime. Consensual sex between men is prohibited under Qatari law, which does not expressly prohibit sex between women, according to the US State Department. Sex between men is punishable by up to seven years in prison.

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Gary Lineker, former British national football player, in a tweet: “Whatever you do, don’t do anything, gay. Is that a message?”

“Don’t be gay at the World Cup,” read Thursday the cover of the British tabloid Metro.

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Lucy Powell, who speaks on behalf of the opposition Labor Party on sports and culture, called Cleverly comments “shockingly tone deaf”. She called on the government to challenge FIFA “for the way they have put fans in this situation” and not “for defending discriminatory values”.

Downing Street rebuked Cleverly’s comments, saying people shouldn’t have to “compromise who they are,” according to the Associated Press.

After the criticism, Cleverly reiterated his stance, telling British broadcaster Sky News that “we have incredibly important partners in the Middle East” and that “it’s important that you respect the culture of your country when you visit a country. host country’.

When asked if he plans to participate in the World Cup, which will be held from November 20. to Dec. 18, Cleverly said he would attend because “it’s an important international event” that would include other interviewees. He also had to be there to protect British travellers, he said.

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Arbitrary arrests and abuse of LGBT people in Qatar continued last month, Human Rights Watch said in a report released Monday.

The Gulf nation’s treatment of disadvantaged groups such as migrant workers has come under scrutiny since it was awarded the right to host the tournament. Qatar’s leaders have hit back at some of the criticism leveled at their country, saying the attacks were carried out by “people who cannot accept the idea of ​​an Arab Muslim country hosting a tournament like the World Cup”.

Andrew Jeong contributed to this report.


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