David Beckham accused of ‘stamping out hope’ for LGBTQ+ community in Qatar
David Beckham has been called out for “stamping out hope” for the LGBTQ+ community in Qatar over his promotional work for the 2022 World Cup.
Beckham was accused of going against the country’s queer community in a searing letter penned by Dr Nas Mohamed, who has been labelled as the ‘first’ Qatari man to come out publicly as gay, to the former England football captain.
Mohamed wrote in the letter, obtained by The Independent, that Beckham was ‘taking money’ from his promotional work and ‘looking the other way’ when it came to Qatar’s persecution against the LGBTQ+ community.
“You are stamping out hope for the LGBT community in Qatar,” Dr Mohamed wrote.
“You show up… take money and look the other way. Furthermore, you send a message that there is truly no chance for us to escape our current persecution and live freely.
“This whitewashing of the persecution of the LGBT community in Qatar does not just erase the pain of those suffering from it, but also undermines their pleas for asylum when they do escape.
“After all, if David Beckham describes Qatar as ‘perfection’, how bad could it really be?”
PinkNews has contacted David Beckham’s team for response.
Homosexuality is illegal in the Gulf nation, and punishments can range from hefty fines to jail time. In regions where the Sharia court rules, it is technically possible for men found to have engaged in same-sex intimacy to be given a death sentence.
‘Respect our culture’
The ex-Manchester United player was slammed in August for promoting Qatar as a “perfect” tourist destination despite the nation’s abysmal track record on LGBTQ+, human and women’s rights.
Dr Mohamed, who fled the country and is seeking asylum in the US, said Beckham’s PR work paints an “inaccurate representation” of life in Qatar and “ignores the lived experience” of LGBTQ+ people in the nation.
“Qatar’s LGBT+ community lives in fear for their lives,” the physician wrote.
“LGBT individuals in Qatar are at an increased risk of social rejection, honour killings, conversion therapy and so much more.”
Mohamed asked Beckham to instead use his “platform to amplify” the voices of the LGBTQ+ community in Qatar and “highlight” the persecution of queer people in the country.
David Beckham – who in 2007 said he was “honoured to have the tag of gay icon” and is an ambassador for UNICEF – signed a deal reportedly worth £150 million in 2021 to become the “face of Qatar” ahead of the World Cup, which kicks off in November.
A source told The Sun in 2021 that Beckham believed in Qatar’s “commitment to progress and that the World Cup – the first to be held in the Arab world – can effect significant positive change”.
World Cup organisers in the Gulf nation have tried to reassure people that all visiting fans will be welcome at the football tournament. The Qatari government said in 2020 that it would allow Pride flags in stadiums after it decided to comply with FIFA rules about promoting tolerance and inclusion at matches.
However, Nasser Al-Khater, 2022 World Cup chief executive, said the country will still expect visitors to “respect our culture”.
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