The Qatar 2022 World Cup kicks off in November amid intense controversy sparked by alleged statements by Nasser Al-Khater, president of the Qatar 2022 World Cup Organizing Committee. Allegedly, he said, “whoever displays the LGBTI flag at the soccer World Cup will be arrested for seven to 11 years” (sic). To learn more about Qatar 22, click here.

The statement began to spread through social media but was not well received by members of the LGBTI community, who would not feel welcome in the country where the big world soccer event will be held.

After that, it is still unclear what Qatar’s restrictions are for the LGBTI community attending the World Cup, but if one thing is obvious, it is that they are a fairly conservative country.

Religion is an essential part of the culture in Qatar

  • 77% of the population is Muslim
  • 9% Christian
  • 14% of other religions, such as Buddhist and Hindu

Besides, Muslims -the largest population- adhere to the strict rules of this religion, which are entirely unfamiliar and puzzling to citizens living in the Occident.

Indeed, the culture shock is quite complex, and as far as is known, the World Cup organizers, as well as the FIFA president himself, Gianni Infantino, expressed that while everyone is welcome in Qatar, those attending the world’s top soccer event must respect the rules of the local culture of the host country.

One of the most notable rules, is that Qatar prohibits public displays of affection for couples of either sex and course. This includes the LGBTI community. 

Although there is no public record of Al-Khater having made the famous statements, which fact-checking analysts have even denied, World Cup security officials told the Associated Press that flags could be confiscated “to protect fans who display them from attack”.

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Homophobia in Qatar

Responding to its culture and rigid religiosity, Qatar is a country with very homophobic laws, which prohibit homosexuality and can be punished with five years in prison, or even higher penalties if it occurs in Muslim citizens. Members of the LGBTI community living in Qatar live in a threatening and hostile environment, a situation that does not seem to be easing for the World Cup visitors.

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According to some soccer players, such as Australian Joshua Cavallo, who has declared himself openly gay, expressed their views on the situation against homosexuals in Qatar, saying that he is terrified to go to this country.

Sharia Law

Qatar is a conservative country ruled by predominantly Sunni and Shiite Muslims, who have relied on a Penal Code that punishes homosexuals through Sharia Law, which denotes the Islamic way of life and dictates all the moral standards required of Muslims.

LGBT

What Happens in Qatar With Women?

Discrimination against women is still very pronounced in Qatar. Its female inhabitants live under the guardianship of a man and are prohibited from deciding what to study, whom to marry, when to work or where to travel.

Women in Qatar require the permission of a man or guardian for almost everything, including deciding whether to use birth control or take care of their reproductive health.

Although, some progress for women is underway, Rothna Begum, senior women’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch, said, “Male guardianship reinforces the power and control that men have over women’s lives and choices. This can encourage or enable situations of violence, leaving women with fewer viable options to escape abuse in the family or by their husbands.”

Qatari women cannot take guardianship of their children. Even if their husband dies, guardianship passes to a male relative, and if there is none, the state takes it over. Nor can women travel without their husband’s permission, nor can they refuse to have sex without a “valid reason”. On the other hand, men may marry up to four women. Read more about Human Rights in Qatar.

Extramarital Sex in Qatar 2022

Article 285 of the Qatari Penal Code states that consensual sexual intercourse outside marriage between men and women is a crime and is punishable by imprisonment for up to seven years. If one of the parties involved in this situation is a Muslim, the punishment is even more severe since the Islamic Sharia applies physical punishment and even the death penalty.

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A case in the news during the summer of 2021 was that of a Mexican woman, Paola Schietekat, who suffered a sexual assault and was convicted of adultery by the Qatari authorities. Her punishment was 100 lashes and seven years in prison.

Dress Code

Obviously, both women and men attending the Qatar 2022 World Cup, will have to be very careful with the clothes they choose to wear during their stay in the country, especially when attending matches. To encourage tourism, the organizers of the sporting event have decided to relax the dress code also because of the expected high temperatures.

However, there are some recommendations to follow:

Men’s Dress Code:

  • Do not wear shorts above the knee
  • Do not wear torn or ripped pants
  • Do not wear T-shirts with messages or phrases offensive to Qatari culture.
  • Do not wear shirts that leave the shoulders uncovered.

Women’s dress code:

  • Do not wear shirts with plunging necklines
  • Do not wear shirts with bare shoulders.
  • Do not wear dresses or shorts above the knee.
  • Do not wear torn or ripped pants
  • Do not wear off-the-shoulder tops.
  • No toplessness
  • Wear a Shayla (head covering) when visiting a mosque or government building.

Sharia Law prohibits alcohol

As we have already mentioned, Qatar is governed by Sharia Law based on Islamic law. This legislation prohibits consuming any intoxicating substances, including alcoholic beverages, as they consider alcohol an enemy of society.

For Qataris, alcohol is a cause of quarrels and family problems, and, most notably for them, alcohol distances people from religion and is considered an obstacle to prayer.

The country’s regulations restrict the consumption of alcohol on public roads. It is only allowed in some bars and with restrictions. There is talk of a relaxation of this rule so that fans may consume a drink inside the stadiums but may not go out on the street with drinks in their hands, and the law punishes people drunk on public roads. If you are a fan, here are all the tips about national teams for Qatar 2022.

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Unauthorized Drugs: Imprisonment between 7 and 15 years

Article 37 of Law No. 9 of 1987 on Control and Regulation of Control and Regulation of Narcotic Drugs and Dangerous Psychotropic Substances states that “whoever possesses, acquires, buys, purchases, receives, transports, administers, exchanges or sells narcotic drugs and dangerous psychotropic substances shall be punished with a prison sentence of between 7 and 15 years, plus a fine of between 100,000 and 200,000 riyals”.

Using illicit or dangerous drugs will definitely not be allowed in Qatar during the World Cup, and people who are accustomed to using them could face heavy fines or even imprisonment.

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FAQ

Will Homosexuals Be Able to Attend the Qatar 2022 World Cup?

Yes, but they will have to respect the culture of this country and some of its social norms, such as public displays of affection.

If a Homosexual Tourist Breaks the Rules in Qatar, Could They Go to Jail?

The legislation provides that if a tourist breaks the moral norms in Qatar, he or she may be deported or asked to leave the country immediately.

Will Women Be Able to Go to Soccer Games in Qatar?

Both women and men may attend, but they must observe the dress code.