The British government’s foreign secretary, James Cleverly, was asked last week about how LGBTQIA+ people should conduct themselves during the Qatar World Cup, to which he responded: “One of the things I would say to football fans is, you know, please do be respectful of the host nation.”
This drew immediate criticism from the Shadow Culture Secretary, Lucy Powell, who described Cleverly’s comments as “shockingly tone deaf.”
New Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has since sought to distance himself from the Foreign Secretary’s comments, with a spokesperson from 10 Downing Street remarking: “We wouldn’t expect [LGBTQIA+ supporters] to compromise who they are and you’ll know the UK has very clear rules around this.”
Qatar’s Penal Code punishes extramarital sex, including same-sex relations, with up to seven years in prison. Muslims can face the death penalty. These laws are enforced by a group within law enforcement called the Preventive Security Department.