May 23 – The Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani has said that gay fans will be welcome at the 2022 World Cup, but demanded that visitors “respect our culture”.
Speaking at a news conference in Berlin following the signing of an energy partnership between Germany and Qatar, al-Thani said: “Everybody is welcome in Doha. We do not stop anyone from coming to Doha with any different backgrounds, or any different beliefs. Qatar is a very welcoming country. We have millions of people that come and visit our country and the World Cup is a great opportunity for people from different parts of the world to come and experience our culture.
“We will not stop anybody from coming and enjoying the football. But I also want everybody to come and understand and enjoy our culture. We welcome everybody, but also we expect and we want people to respect our culture,” he said.
The Emir’s words reflect what local organisers have maintained throughout the protracted build-up to this year’s World Cup – that the LGBT community will be welcome in Qatar, but that the local culture must be respected.
In Qatar, homosexuality remains a criminal offence.
A recent survey by a Scandinavian media group showed that three of the sixty-nine hotels on FIFA’s official list of recommended accommodations would deny entry to same-sex couples. Additionally, 33 hotels had no problem booking for same-sex couples, and 20 other hotels said they would accommodate them as long as they did not publicly show that they were gay.
World governing body FIFA said it was “confident that all necessary measures will be expedited to allow LGBTQ+ fans and others to enjoy the tournament in a welcoming and safe manner”.
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