Queer Qataris promised safety in return for information on other LGBTQ+ people

"When the law enforcement finds one person, they actively try to find their entire network."

A queer person looking out onto a Qatari city.
Image: Twitter: @433

Queer Qataris are being offered safety from physical torture, provided that they identify other LGBTQ+ community members in the country, a local campaigner claims. Speaking to The Guardian, activist Dr Nassar Mohamed said that authorities are recruiting vulnerable people to help them gain information and track down the state’s queer population.

“A lot [of gay Qataris] don’t know about each other,” the prominent doctor said. “And it’s safer that way because when the law enforcement finds one person, they actively try to find their entire network. But some of the people who were captured and physically abused were then recruited as agents.

“Now there are agents in the gay community that were promised safety from physical torture in exchange for working for the preventive security department and helping them find groups of LGBTQ+ people.”

The human rights situation in Qatar has been dominating headlines over recent weeks, as the Gulf nation prepares to host the 2022 World Cup. Many football teams, players, officials and fans have condemned FIFA’s decision to grant the country hosting rights, and LGBTQ+ people have said they do not feel safe travelling to the tournament.

Although Mohamed believes that foreign supporters will not be persecuted while in the country for the competition, he warned that the situation is very different for queer Qataris. “You live in fear, you live in the shadows, you’re actively persecuted. You’re subjected to state-sponsored physical and mental abuse. It’s dangerous to be an LGBT person in Qatar.”

Homosexuality is outlawed in the Middle-Eastern country, punishable by time in prison and even death under Sharia law. Reports have emerged of local LGBTQ+ people being arbitrarily arrested and abused while in custody, and recently, one of the Qatari World Cup ambassadors described queerness as “damage in the mind”.

Head of the Professional Footballers Association Ireland, Stephen McGuinness, hopes that Qatar will decriminalise homosexuality as a result of the criticism that they have faced on the back of the World Cup. Speaking to RTÉ, he said that players want their voices to be heard and that “there is a groundswell of support in relation to LGBTQ+”.

“The legacy left from Qatar should be that the criminalisation of LGBTQ+… should be gone.

“For me, the world has changed and football has changed the world. It’s the world’s game and I think there’s no reason why football shouldn’t be the reason why Qatar needs to open up and look at what’s going on around the world and be part of it, and move with it and really get behind the times,” McGuinness stated.

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