Nas Mohamed is a Qatari 35-year-old doctor who became the first man to come out as gay in the country, where homosexuality is still illegal.
In an interview with The Independent, the Qatari gay doctor said he was done remaining “anonymous” and that it was time for him to share his journey to accepting his sexuality, which was not an easy one.
Homosexuality in Qatar is illegal and punishable by fines, jail time and, in regions where the Sharia law is applied more severely, queer people could actually face a death sentence.
Moreover, growing up in a place where being queer is rejected so strongly has a profound impact on Qatari LGBTQ+ people, who have to face marginalisation, ostracisation from friends and family, and threats of violence. As Mohamed explained, growing up in Qatar means growing up in a country where “male, macho, righteous and misogynistic culture” is the norm.
During the interview, Mohamed spoke about growing up in Qatar and how he feared he would be killed if anyone found out about his LGBTQ+ identity. In all the years he spent living in the country, he wasn’t able to confide in anyone, as he grew up in an “extremely religious” household.
He was only able to embrace his identity when he got out of the country and went on a trip to Las Vegas when he was in medical school in his 20s. “I walked into a gay club and I knew I was 100 percent gay,” he said “I went home and cried – I thought my life is in crisis.”
Now, his outlook has changed and he fully embraces his identity as a queer man. He is also aware of the need for the LGBTQ+ community to become more visible in his home country. “For us to change things for LGBTQ+ Qataris, we need more people to come out,” he said.
He also added: “I would like to share my views with my name, as a physician and as a Qatari citizen that still has parents and siblings in the country. They need to know I am one of their own and am not a ‘western agenda’ as they refer to us.”
Now, Mohamed has found a new home in Los Angeles and is seeking asylum in the US. He is aware that coming out as a Qatari gay man might mean being completely estranged from his family and never reconnecting with them.
The question of LGBTQ+ rights in Qatar has been the subject of discussion recently because the nation is set to host the 2022 World Cup and activists and fans are asking why a country with such human rights issues was given this opportunity. While FIFA officials insist that LGBTQ+ players and fans will be welcome in the country, there still remain some serious doubts that this is actually true.
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