First openly gay Qatari: “Love should not be criminal”

i24NEWS

5 min read
West Bay in Doha, Qatar, on December 9, 2021.
AP Photo/Darko BandicWest Bay in Doha, Qatar, on December 9, 2021.

'I am not coming out with my own story. I am coming out with other stories of LGBT Qataris too'

Two weeks ago, Qatari-born Nasser Mohamad “came out” live on air in an interview with the BBC as the first openly gay person growing up in the strictly Sharia-based Gulf State.

“I am not coming out with my own story. I am coming out with other stories of LGBT Qataris too. To share their journeys and experiences about being part of the LGBT community in Qatar," the 35-year-old doctor told i24NEWS.

In Qatar, homosexuality is illegal, with the death penalty among the potential punishments.

Therefore, it was a big decision for Mohamad to share his story, however, he felt that with the forthcoming World Cup in Qatar in November, it was the right time, he said.

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“Qatar has not been so much under the spotlight before as it is now, so I want it to shine on all of us. Now the world is interested in all of us, and what is going on, so it is a moment in time with urgency to  make everything visible.”

Today, Mohamad lives in the United States where he works as a doctor but throughout his childhood, he felt “different.”

“Where I grew up, I did not have internet, so I felt alone with how I felt until I got to medical school and then was able to expand my understanding of the world and myself,” he told i24NEWS, explaining that the reactions have been "extremely positive, and extremely negative" after he shared his story publicly.

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“But love is the ability to suppress fear, so my message is to focus on love because that is the universal language despite different cultures, religions, and backgrounds,” he said.

“This is really one thread that condemns all of us. All of us want love and to feel loved and be safe,” he added.

Since it was revealed that Qatar would host World Cup 2022, there has been an increasing focus on LGBT+ rights in the state, with many countries raising concerns over the wellbeing of LGBT+ people visiting the country, fearing that they will face discrimination.

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For Mohamad, the World Cup is an opportunity to raise awareness of the issue. Therefore, he also started his own petition to FIFA against Qatar to decriminalize love.  

“Love should not be criminal, and I think we all need to defend that. That is why I am coming out just prior to pride month too to ask all gay communities that have been lobbied to protect love and their rights to love everywhere to speak up,” he told i24NEWS.

“This is no longer about internal issues. It is about the whole world, and how you interact with the whole world, and what they want to feel when they are on your soil.” 

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