Qatar’s ambassador to UK warns of ‘public display of affection’ at World Cup

Qatar’s ambassador to the UK has defended the treatment of gay people ahead of the World Cup.

Fahad bin Mohammed Al-Attiyah also said visitors to the tournament should be “aware of the norms and cultures of Qatari society” when it kicks off in November.

In an interview with Times Radio, the diplomat was asked about the reaction of the Qatari authorities if a same-sex couple, especially two men, hold hands and show affection, for example by kissing in public.

Mr bin Mohammed Al-Attiyah said holding hands in the street was “totally permitted”.

“I wouldn’t comment on any hypothetical scenarios,” he said. “But I would say public displays of affection would probably be illegal here in the UK.”

Host Ayesha Hazarika replied, “That’s not true.”

“In that case, I would say holding hands is totally allowed in any culture, even in our culture – come and hold hands, that’s no problem at all,” the ambassador continued.

“But there are certain interpretations of what would be a public display of affection, in one particular country, that might be different in another, so I think you just have to keep in mind the norms and cultures of Qatari society in this regard.”

Fahad bin Mohammed Al-Attiyah (International Maritime Organization)

Fahad bin Mohammed Al-Attiyah (International Maritime Organization)

When Ms Hazarika, if gay couples could share rooms, he said: ‘Again, you know, when you come to the check-in counter they’re not going to ask you if you’re gay or lesbian to get a room. at any location.Hotel.

“You can stay with as many people as you want, whether you’re gay or lesbian, it’s up to you. So I think there is no problem on that front.

Mr bin Mohammed Al-Attiyah was also asked how many people had died building the World Cup stadiums.

Concerns have been raised over homophobia and human rights ahead of the tournament (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Concerns have been raised over homophobia and human rights ahead of the tournament (Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

In response, he said, “I don’t have the exact numbers with me. But in general, the overall death rate per 100,000 is well below the international average rate.

The ambassador’s comments come after Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said LGBT football fans traveling to Qatar should be “respectful of the host country” and “compromise”.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has been criticized for his comments (PA Wire)

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has been criticized for his comments (PA Wire)

Mr Cleverly added: “One of the things I would say to football fans is, you know, please be respectful of the host country.

“They try to ensure that people can be themselves and enjoy the football, and I think with a bit of flexibility and compromise on both sides, it can be a safe, secure and exciting World Cup. “

He also told Sky News: “These are Muslim countries, they have a very different cultural starting point for us. I think it’s important when you’re a visitor to a country to respect the culture of your country. host country.

The minister’s statement sparked a backlash, with Gary Lineker tweeting: “Whatever you do don’t do anything gay. Is this the message? »

And Labour’s shadow culture secretary Lucy Powell called the comments “shockingly tone deaf”.

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