As Qatar is set to host the 2022 World Cup, FIFA must fight for the safety of LGBT+ visitors to the country and for LGBT+ Qataris who cannot leave when these games end.
The following information and petition are also available in Arabic. To view the Arabic translation, please click here.
In a matter of months, much of the world's attention will turn to my home country, Qatar, as it hosts the world's largest football tournament – the 2022 FIFA World Cup. For many, this would be a moment of pride. But for me, an out and proud gay Qatari who had to flee my home, it is a reminder of the dangerous and deadly LGBTphobia that exists in Qatar.
Currently, homosexuality is illegal in Qatar under Article 296 of the penal code with punishment ranging from imprisonment of 3-5 years, and even DEATH. Because of these homophobic laws and the daily social and legal obstacles that exist in Qatari society, I had no other choice but to seek asylum in the United States for my own safety.
In sharing my story, I’ve been able to shed light on the dangers for LGBT+ Qataris. But now, as tens of thousands of football fans will soon head to Qatar, I am fearful of what will happen when the spotlight is gone.
LGBT+ visitors are advised by the Qatari government to avoid public displays of affection and even refrain from being their authentic selves. The event’s main organizer, Hassan Al Thawadi, suggested that LGBT+ visitors should respect Qatar’s homophobic culture and “simply take a break” from being LGBT+.
FIFA does damage to its reputation for justice, by selecting a staunch anti-LGBT+ nation to host the 2022 World Cup. With the world’s cameras on Qatar, we have an opportunity to pressure FIFA and the Qatari government to ensure that LGBT+ rights are protected both during the World Cup, and also once the cameras are turned off and the fans go home.
Now is your chance to speak up. Our actions today have the potential to shape the global movement for LGBT+ rights. We must ramp up the pressure and demand that FIFA and Qatar stop discrimination against LGBT+ people. I want a World Cup and a Qatar where all people – including LGBT+ people – are respected, welcomed, and protected. Will you celebrate Pride Month by supporting LGBT+ Qataris – people like me?