The Independent

Qatar envoy says being gay is ‘damage in the mind’


A Qatar World Cup ambassador has told German television broadcaste­r ZDF that homosexual­ity was “damage in the mind”, as the Gulf state prepares to host the global tournament in less than two weeks.

In an interview filmed in Doha yesterday, former Qatari footballer Khalid Salman addressed the issue of homosexual­ity,

which is illegal in the conservati­ve Muslim country. Some football players have raised concerns over the rights of fans travelling to the event, especially LGBT+ individual­s and women, whom rights groups say Qatari laws discrimina­te against. The country expects more than one million visitors for the World Cup.

“They have to accept our rules here,” Salman said, in an excerpt of the interview. “[Homosexual­ity] is haram. You know what haram [forbidden] means?” he said. When asked why it was haram, Salman said: “I am not a strict Muslim but why is it haram? Because it is damage in the mind.”

The interview was then immediatel­y stopped by an accompanyi­ng official. Qatar’s World Cup organisers, when contacted by Reuters, declined to comment. Fifa did not immediatel­y respond to a request for comment. Organisers have repeatedly said everyone was welcome in Qatar during the World Cup.

Qatar is the first Middle Eastern country to host the World Cup but the small nation has come under intense pressure in recent years for its treatment of foreign workers and restrictiv­e social laws. The country’s human rights record has led to calls for teams and officials to boycott the 20 November to 18 December tournament.

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 ?? (AFP via Getty) ?? Retired footballer Khalid Salman told journalist­s that ‘homosexual­ity was haram’
(AFP via Getty) Retired footballer Khalid Salman told journalist­s that ‘homosexual­ity was haram’

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