A Qatar World Cup ambassador has said homosexuality is “damage in the mind”, reaffirming major concerns about the anti-LGBTQ+ Gulf state hosting the major event, and the safety of queer fans who may be attending.
In an interview filmed in the country’s capital Doha former Qatari international Khalid Salman made a shocking attempt to address the issue of homosexuality being illegal in the country.
In the interview, Salman said: “They have to accept our rules out here.
“[Homosexuality] is haram. You know what haram [forbidden] means?”
The interviewer then questioned why is was haram, Salman responded: “I am not a strict Muslim but why is it haram? Because it is damage in the mind.”
Following this statement the interview was immediately stopped by an accompanying official, Reuters reported.
He added anyone attending the country for the tournament should behave according to its rules.
Under the country’s horrific LGBTQ+ laws queer people can face up to seven years in prison if convicted, while under Sharia law it is technically possible for men found to have engaged in same-sex relationships to be sentenced to death.
FIFA has consistently reassured LGBTQ+ fans they will be safe to visit the country.
A replica of the World Cup in Qatar (Getty Images)
Qatar is expected to see more than one million visitors arrive for the World Cup when it begins on 20 November.
In response to criticism of the host country’s record on LGBTQ+ rights, FIFA bosses have urged players to “focus on the football” rather than “handing out moral lessons”.
However, there is hope the Gulf state will be held accountable for its awful human rights record, as players from Wales have already been told they can address any issue they like while they’re visiting Qatar.
Australia’s national football team, Socceroos, have also raised their concerns about the suffering of migrant workers and the criminalisation of LGBTQ+ people in Qatar.
Most recently BrewDog has been hit with backlash on social media after launching a “confusing” anti-sponsor World Cup campaign, while continuing to advocate screen all World Cup matches.