UK minister slammed for ‘tone-deaf’ comment about gay World Cup fans – National

British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly came under fire on Wednesday after telling gay football fans heading to the World Cup in Qatar that they should make « compromises » and be « respectful of the host country ».

The comments were quickly disavowed by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s office, while a senior opposition Labor Party official called them « shockingly deaf ».

Homosexuality is criminalized in Qatar and Cleverly was asked about the issue following the questioning of British activist Peter Tatchell by police after he staged a one-man protest outside the National Museum of Qatar, holding up a sign accusing the country to imprison members of the LGBTQ community.

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« I have spoken to the Qatari authorities in the past about gay football fans who are going to watch the World Cup and how they will treat our fans and international fans, » Cleverly told LBC Radio. « They want to make sure football fans are safe and having fun, and they know that means they’re going to have to compromise on what an Islamic country is with a very different set of cultural norms from our own.

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« One of the things I would say to football fans is, you know, please be respectful of the host country. They try to make sure people can be themselves and enjoy the football, and I think with a bit of flexibility and compromise on both sides it can be a safe, secure and exciting World Cup.

Click to play the video: “Canada returns to the World Cup in less than a month! »

Canada returns to the World Cup in less than a month!

Qatar said everyone was welcome at the World Cup, including LGBTQ fans, but visitors should respect the country’s conservative culture, in which public displays of affection _ even among heterosexuals _ are taboo.

Qatari law provides for a prison term of one to three years for adults convicted of consensual same-sex or lesbian sex. European football associations last month announced plans for captains to wear a rainbow heart armband as part of an anti-discrimination campaign at international matches.

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Downing Street was quick to reject Cleverly’s language, saying people shouldn’t have to « compromise who they are ».

Opposition parties also criticized Cleverly’s comments, with SNP Westminster deputy leader Kirsten Oswald tweeting: « The Foreign Secretary seems to be basically advising people going to the World Cup in Qatar to show respect and not to be gay. It’s odious.

Labor shadow culture secretary Lucy Powell said: ‘This is shocking coming from James Cleverly. Sport should be open to everyone. Many fans will think they can’t attend this tournament to cheer on their team due to Qatar’s human, labor and LGBT+ rights record.

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