Gay football fans should not have to compromise in Qatar, says Nadhim Zahawi | World Cup 2022

The Conservative party chair has said LGBTQ+ football fans travelling to next month’s World Cup in Qatar should not have to compromise on their sexuality, despite the foreign secretary saying fans should “respect” Qatar’s culture just a day earlier.

Nadhim Zahawi told LBC Radio that no one should have to compromise on their identity if they wanted to attend the tournament. He said: “I would say you should not compromise on your identity or your sexuality or your sexual preference in any way. Of course you are safe to go to the World Cup. No one should have to compromise at all in my view.

“I am very proud of what we have done in the UK. We use every opportunity when we engage with the Qatari government to share with them how we do things here. They have had a different historical journey but football is a celebration of diversity. I am sure the Qataris completely understand this as well.

“No one should need to compromise on their sexuality or their preference whatsoever.”

Zahawi’s comments seemingly contradict those made by James Cleverly, his cabinet colleague, who on Wednesday said gay football fans should show respect to Qatar.

Cleverly had said Qatar was willing to make compromises to allow people it would normally persecute to attend the tournament, saying: “I have spoken to the Qatari authorities in the past about gay football fans going to watch the World Cup and how they will treat our fans and international fans.

He added: “They want to make sure that football fans are safe, secure and enjoy themselves. And they know that that means they are going to have to make some compromises in terms of what is an Islamic country with a very different set of cultural norms to our own.

“One of the things I would say for football fans is, you know, please do be respectful of the host nation. They are trying to ensure that people can be themselves and enjoy the football, and I think with a little bit of flex and compromise at both ends, it can be a safe, secure and exciting World Cup.”

The tournament, which will be held in Qatar from 20 November, has faced criticism due to Qatar’s poor human rights record and its treatment of the LGBTQ+ community, with homosexuality illegal.

According to a report by Amnesty International, human right abuses still “persist on a significant scale” in the country.