Qatar’s sports minister says that the issue of gay football fans will be handled just like that of alcohol during the 2022 World Cup.
Alcohol is banned in Qatar, and is only allowed to be served to non-Muslim customers at selected 5-star hotels or to be bought by foreigners who obtain a special license for personal consumption.
Homosexuality is also outlawed in Gulf Cooperation Countries (GCC), including Qatar, with punishments such as imprisonment, fines, deportation and even the death penalty.
In an interview with AP, Minister Salah bin Ghanem bin Nasser al-Ali was asked how drinking and homosexuality will be dealt with during the tournament.
He said that the country would look at “creative” solutions when it came to visiting football fans obtaining and drinking alcohol.
“We will respect all the rules and regulations by FIFA. We can study this and minimize the impact on our people and tradition. I think we can be creative, finding solutions for all of this. But we respect all the rules and regulations,” he said.
When asked about gay fans, he replied: “It’s exactly like the alcohol question.”
Al-Ali added: “We can adapt, we can be creative to have people coming and enjoying the games without losing the essence of our culture and respecting the preference of the people coming here. I think there is a lot we can do.”
Reacting to concerns that homosexuality is illegal in Qatar, Sepp Blatter, the President of FIFA, said in 2010 that gay fans who hoped to attend the Qatar World Cup “should refrain from any sexual activities.” He later apologised for the comment, saying it was meant as a joke.
In October last year, leading British LGBT rights activist Peter Tatchell called for the Qatar World Cup to be cancelled after the Kuwaiti health ministry said it would conduct medical “tests” to “detect” gay expatriates “who would be then barred from entering Kuwait or any of the GCC member states.”