Qatar’s World Cup ambassador says homosexuality is ‘damage in the mind’

Qatar’s World Cup ambassador says homosexuality is ‘damage in the mind’

BERLIN, Nov 8 (Reuters) – Qatar’s ambassador to the World Cup told German broadcaster ZDF that homosexuality is a “damage in the mind” as the Gulf state prepares to host the world tournament in less than two weeks.

In an interview filmed in Doha and to be shown later on Tuesday, former Qatar international Khalid Salman addressed the issue of homosexuality, which is illegal in the conservative Muslim country.

Some footballers have raised concerns about the rights of fans traveling to the event, particularly LGBT+ individuals and women, who rights groups say Qatari laws discriminate against.

The country expects more than a million visitors for the World Cup.

“They have to accept our rules here,” Salman said in an excerpt of the interview. “(Homosexuality) is haram. Do you know what haram (forbidden) means?” he said.

When asked why it is haram, Salman said: “I am not a strict Muslim, but why is it haram? Because it is a harm in the mind.”

The interview was then immediately interrupted by the accompanying officer. Qatar’s World Cup organizers, when contacted by Reuters, declined to comment.

World soccer’s governing body FIFA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“Obviously, these comments are appalling,” German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser, who visited Qatar a week ago, said on Tuesday.

Faeser said she received security guarantees from the local interior minister and the prime minister, and that this relates to the protection of gay fans, as well as possible racist or anti-Semitic attacks.

“I have no new indication from him (the Qatari interior minister) now that anything should have changed in that regard,” Faeser told reporters.

The organizers have repeatedly said that everyone is welcome in Qatar during the World Cup.

Qatar is the first Middle Eastern country to host the World Cup, but the small nation has come under intense pressure in recent years over its treatment of foreign workers and restrictive welfare laws.

The country’s human rights record has led to calls for teams and officials to boycott the Nov. 20-Dec. 18 tournament.

Reporting by Karolos Grohmann, Additional reporting by Andrew Mills in Doha and Paul Carrel in Berlin; Editing: Peter Rutherford and Ed Osmond

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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