An ambassador for the Qatar World Cup expressed his views on German television that same-sex relationships are a “damage in the mind.” His remarks swiftly went viral, bringing to light the Gulf state’s views on same-sex relationships as the country prepares to host the global football tournament.
Speaking in an interview filmed in Doha and broadcast on Germany’s ZDF television station, former Qatari international Khalid Salman spoke on the issue of homosexuality being illegal in the Gulf state.
Qatar expects to host more than a million visitors for the upcoming World Cup and Khalid Salman stated that any visitors to the country are required to behave according to the country’s laws.
“They have to accept our rules here,” he said. “Homosexuality is haram. Do you know what haram means?”
Haram is the Arabic term for “forbidden.”
Pressed on why same-sex relationships are forbidden in Qatar, Khalid Salman expressed that he is not a “strict Muslim” but stated his view that it is forbidden because “it is a damage in the mind,” the New York Post reported.
His remarks, which were being broadcasted live, were swiftly cut off by an accompanying sports official. His statement drew concern that fans traveling to the country could face discrimination for their sexual orientation.
Organizers for the World Cup have repeatedly stated that all visitors to the country are welcome, making no exclusions for LGBTQ+ individuals and women despite the country’s strict laws against same-sex relationships.